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In which are kept our arrows ? Rusting there
In wild disorder, and unfit for use,
What wonder if, discharg'd into the world,
They shame their shooters with a random flight,
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine!
Well may the church wage unsuccessful war
With such artill’ry arm’d. Vice parries wide
Th' undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.
Have we not track'd the felon home, and found His birth-place and his dam? The country mourns, Mourns because ev'ry plague, that can infest Society, and that
saps and worms the base Of th' edifice, that Policy has rais'd, Swarms in all quarters : meets the eye,
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
And wav'd his rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egypt; gardens, fields, and plains,
Were cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill'd;
The crooking nuisance lurk'd in every 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 happiness.-Some
account of myself.---The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise.- Justifications 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 garden.---Pruning.--Framing.--Green. house.--Sowing of flower-seeds.---The country preferable to the town even in winter.--Reasons why it is deserted at that season.-Runious 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 called
T'adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have rambld 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 hetter 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 appris'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or, at least, contine
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 hast surviv'd the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting long enjoy thee! too intirm, 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 the 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 seen 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 the 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 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 'twas 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, sbred.
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;