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As one, who long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking hoine;
Or, having long in miry ways been foited
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 called
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 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 refreshed 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 throng? 'Twere wiser far For me, enamoured of sequestered scenes, And charmed 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 sheltered sofa, while the nitrous air .'' Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth; There, undisturbed 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 concealed Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the fault Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic Happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has 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 Unmixed 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, Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again. Thou art not 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
lo all our crowded streets; and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less,
Than to release th’adultress from her bond.
Th' 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, abandoned, glorying in her shame !
No: let her pass, and, chariotted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways ;
The frequency of crimes has washed them white.
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch
Whom matrons now of character unsmirched,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
Not to be passed : and she, that had renounced
Her sexes honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it; not for prudery's sake,
But 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 th' unbleinished to prescrve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honorr in those days,
And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped,
And pocketed a prize by fraud obtained,
Was marked and shunned 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 dressed, well
Well equipaged, is ticket good enough [bred,
To pass as readily through every door.
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may,'
(And no man's hatred ever wronged 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 infixed
My panting side was charged, 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 healęd, 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 wanderers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions ; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still wooed
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 discoveries 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,