The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality/Night VIII

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The Complaint: or Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality by Edward Young
Night VIII: Virtue's Apology; or, The Man of the World Answered.

NIGHT VIII. VIRTUE'S APOLOGY;

OR, THE MAN OF THE WORLD ANSWERED. IN WHICH ARE

CONSIDERED, THE LOVE OF THIS LIFE J

THE AMBITION AND PLEASURE, WITH THE WIT AND WISDOM OF THE WORLD.

AND has all nature, then, espous'd my part ? Have I brib'd heaven, and earth, to plead against

thee ?

And is thy soul immortal ? What remains ? All, all, Lorenzo ! Make immortal, blest. Unblest immortals ! What can shock us more ? And yet Lorenzo still affects the world ; There, stows his treasure ; thence, his title draws, Man of the world (for such wouldst thou be call'd) And art thou proud of that inglorious style ? Proud of reproach ? for a reproach it was, In ancient days ; and Christian, in an age, When men were men, and not asham'd of heaven Fir'd their ambition, as it crown'd their joy. Sprinkled with dews from the Castalian font, Fain would I re- baptize thee, and confer A purer spirit, and a nobler name.

The poetical parts of it.


NIG JIT VIII, 163

Thy fond attachments fatal, and inflam'd, Point out my path, and dictate to my song

: 

To thee, the world how fair! How strongly strikes Ambition ! and gay pleasure stronger still ! Thy triple bane ! the triple bolt that lays Thy virtue dead ! Be these my triple theme ; Nor shall thy wit, or wisdom, be forgot.

Common the theme ; not so the song ; if she My song invokes, Urania, deigns to smile. The charm that chains us to the world, her foe, If she dissolves, the man of earth, at once, Starts from his trance, and sighs for other scenes ; Scenes, where these sparks of night, these stars

shall shine

Unnumber'd suns (for all things, as they are, The blest behold) ; and, in one glory, pour Their blended blaze on man's astonisht sight ; A blaze the least illustrious object there.

Lorenzo ! since eternal is at hand, To swallow time's ambitions ; as the vast Leviathan, the bubbles vain, that ride High on the foaming billow ; what avail High titles, high descent, attainments high, If unattain'd our highest ? O Lorenzo ! What lofty thoughts, these elements above, What tow'ring hopes, what sallies from the sun What grand surveys of destiny divine, And pompous presage of unfathom'd fate, Should roll in bosoms, where a spirit burns, Bound for eternity ! In bosoms read By him, who foibles in archangels sees ! On human hearts he bends a jealous eye, And marks, and in heaven's register enrolls, The rise, and progress, of each option there ;


184 THE COMPLAINT.

Sacred to doomsday ! that the page unfolds, And spreads us to the gaze of gods and men.

And what an option, O Lorenzo ! thine ? This world ! and this, unrivall'd by the skies ! A world, where lust of pleasure, grandeur, gold, Three demons that divide its realms between them, With strokes alternate buffet to and fro Man's restless heart, their sport, their flying ball ; Till, with the giddy circle sick, and tir'd, It pants for peace, and drops into despair. Such is the world Lorenzo sets above That glorious promise angels were esteem'd Too mean to bring ; a promise, their ador'd Descended to communicate, and press, By counsel, miracle, life, death, on man. Such is the world Lorenzo's wisdom woos, And on its thorny pillow seeks repose ; A pillow, which, like opiates ill-prepar'd, Intoxicates, but not composes ; fills The visionary mind with gay chimeras, All the wild trash of sleep, without the rest ; What unfeign'd travel, and what dreams of joy !

How frail, men, things ! How momentary, both ! Fantastic chase of shadows hunting shades ! The gay, the busy, equal, tho' unlike ; Equal in wisdom, differently wise ! Thro' flow'ry meadows, and thro' dreary wastes, One bustling, and one dancing, into death. There's not a day, but, to the man of thought, . Betrays some secret, that throws new reproach On life, and makes him sick of seeing more. The scenes of bus'ness tell us " What are men;" The scenes of pleasure " What is all beside ;" There, others we despise ; and here, ourselves


NIGHT VIII. 185

Amid disgust eternal dwells delight ? Tis approbation strikes the string- of joy.

What wondrous prize has kindled this career, Stuns with the din, and chokes us with the dust, On life's gay stage, one inch above the grave ? The proud run up and down in quest of eyes ; The sensual, in pursuit of something worse ; The grave, of gold ; the politic, of power ; And all, of other butterflies, as vain ! As eddies draw things frivolous, and light, How is man's heart by vanity drawn in ; On the swift circle of returning toys, [gulf'd, Whirl'd, straw-like, round and round, and then in- Where gay delusion darkens to despair !

" This is a beaten track." Is this a track Should not be beaten ? Never beat enough, Till enough learnt the truths it would inspire. Shall truth be silent, because folly frowns ? Turn the world's history ; what find we there, But fortune's sports, or nature's cruel claims, Or woman's artifice, or man's revenge, And endless inhumanities on man ? Fame's trumpet seldom sounds, but, like the knell, It brings bad tidings : how it hourly blows Man's misadventures round the listening world ! Man is the tale of narrative old time ; Sad tale ; which high as Paradise begins ; As if, the toil of travel to delude, From stag % e to stage, in his eternal round, The days, his daughters, as they spin our hours On fortune's wheel, where accident unthought Oft, in a moment, snaps life's strongest thread. Each, in her turn, some tragic story tells, With, now-and-then, a wretched farce between ;


186 THE COMPLAINT.

And fills his chronicle with human woes. [us;

Time's daughters, true as those of men, deceive N T ot one, but puts some cheat on all mankind : While in their father's bosom, not yet ours, They flatter our fond hopes ; and promise much Of amiable; but hold him not o'erwise, Who dares to trust them ; and laugh round the year At still-confiding, still-confounded, man, Confiding, tho' confounded ; hoping on, Untaught by trial, unconvinc'd by proof, And ever looking for the never-seen. Life to the last, like harden'd felons, lies ; Nor owns itself a cheat, till it expires. Its little joys go out by one and one, And leave poor man, at length, in perfect night ; Night darker, than what, now, involves the pole.

O thou, who dost permit these ills to fall, For gracious ends, and wouldst that man should

mourn !

O thou, whose hands this goodly fabric fram'd, Who know'st it best, and would'st that man should

know !

What is this sublunary world ? A vapour ; A vapour all it holds ; itself, a vapour ; From the damp bed of chaos, by thy beam Exhal'd, ordain'd to swim its destin'd hour In ambient air, then melt, and disappear. Earth's days are number'd nor remote her doom ; As mortal, tho' less transient, than her sons ; Yet they dote on her, as the world and they Were both eternal, solid ; thou, a dream.

They dote ! on what ? Immortal views apart, A region of outsides ! a land of shadows ! A fruitful field of flow'ry promises !


NIGHT VIII.


187


A wilderness of joys ! perplext with doubts, And sharp with thorns ! a troubled ocean, spread With bold adventurers, their all on board ! No second hope, if here their fortune frowns ; Frown soon it must. Of various rates they sail, Of e/nsigns various ; all alike in this, All restless, anxious ; tost with hopes, and fears, In calmest skies ; obnoxious all to storm ; And stormy the most gen'ral blast of life : All bound for happiness ; yet few provide The chart of knowledge, pointing" where it lies ; Or virtue's helm, to shape the course design'd : All, more or less, capricious fate lament, Now lifted by the tide, and now resorb'd, And farther from their wishes than before : All, more or less, against each other dash. To mutual hurt, by gusts of passion driven, ^And suff'ring more from folly, than from fate. Ocean ! thou dreadful and tumultuous home Of dangers, at eternal war with man ! Death's capital, where most he domineers, With all his chosen terrors frowning round, (Tho' lately feasted high at 'Albion's cost) Wide-op'ning, and loud-roaring still for more ! Too faithful mirror ! how dost thou reflect The melancholy face of human life ! The strong resemblance tempts me farther still : And, haply, Britain may be deeper struck By moral truth, in such a mirror seen, Which nature holds for ever at her eye.

Self-flatter'd, unexperienc'd, high in hope, When young, with sanguine cheer, and streamers

gay>

1 Admiral Balchen, &c.


188 THE COMPLAINT.

We Cut our cable, launch into the world, And fondly dream each wind and star our friend ; All in some darling enterprise embarkt : But where is he can fathom its extent ? Amid a multitude of artless hands, Ruin's sure perquisite ! her lawful prize ! Some steer aright ; but the black blast blows hard, And puffs them wide of hope : \vith hearts of proof, Full against wind and tide, some win their way ; And when strong effort has deserv'd the port, And tugg'd it into view, 'tis won ! 'tis lost ! Tho' strong their oar, still stronger is their fate : They strike ; and while they triumph they expire. In stress of weather, most ; some sink outright ; O'er them, and o'er their names, the billows close ; To-morrow knows not they were ever born. Others a short memorial leave behind. Like a flag floating, when the bark's ingulf 'd ; It floats a moment, and is seen no more : One Caesar lives ; a thousand are forgot. How few, beneath auspicious planets born, (Darlings of Providence ! fond fate's elect !) With swelling sails make good the promis'd port, With all their wishes freighted ! Yet ev'n these. Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain ; Free from misfortune, not from nature free, They still are men ; and when is man secure ? As fatal time, as storm ! the rush of years Beats down their strength ; their numberless escapes In ruin end : and, now, their proud success But plants new terrors on the victor's brow : What pain to quit the world, just made their own, Their nest so deeply down'd, and built so high ! Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.


NIGHT VIII. 189

Woe then apart (if woe apart can be From mortal man), and fortune at our nod, The gay ! rich ! great ! triumphant ! and august ! What are they? the most happy (strange to say !) Convince me most of human misery ; What are they ? Smiling wretches of to-morrow ! More wretched, then, than e'er their slave can be ; Their treach'rous blessings, at the day of need, Like other faithless friends, unmask, and sting : Then, what provoking indigence in wealth! What aggravated impotence in power ! High titles, then, what insult of their pain ! If that sole anchor, equal to the waves, Immortal hope ! defies not the rude storm, Takes comfort from the foaming billows' rage, And makes a welcome

harbour of the tomb. 

Is this a sketch of what thy soul admires ? " But here (thou say'st) the miseries of life Are huddled in a group. A more distinct Survey, perhaps, might bring thee better news." Look on life's stages : they speak plainer still ; The plainer they, the deeper wilt thou sigh. Look on thy lovely boy ; in him behold The best that can befall the best on earth ; The boy has virtue by his mother's side : Yes, on Florello look : a father's heart Is tender, tho' the man's is made of stone ; The truth, thro' such a medium seen, may make Impression deep, and fondness prove thy friend.

Florello lately cast on this rude coast A helpless infant ; now a heedless child ; To poor Clarissa's throes, thy care succeeds ; Care full of love, and yet severe as hate ! O'er thy soul's joy how oft thy fondness frowns !


{&&>/-:


I DO TIJK COMPLAINT.

Needful austerities his will restrain ;

As thorns fence in the tender plant from harm

As yet, his reason cannot go alone ;

But asks a sterner nurse to lead it on.

His little heart is often terrified ;

The blush of morning, in his cheek, turns pale ,

Its pearly dewdrop trembles in his eye ;

His harmless eye ! and droAvns an angel there.

Ah ! what avails his innocence ? The task

Injoin'd must discipline his early powers ;

He learns to sigh, ere he is known to sin ;

Guiltless, and sad ! A wretch before the fall !

How cruel this ! more cruel to forbear.

Our nature such, with necessary pains,

We purchase prospects of precarious peace :

Tho' not a father, this might steal a sigh.

Suppose him disciplin'd aright (if not, Twill sink our poor account to poorer still) ; Ripe from the tutor, proud of liberty, He leaps inclosure, bounds into the world ! The world is taken, after ten years' toil, Like ancient Troy ; and all its joys his own. Alas ! the world's a tutor more severe ; Its lessons hard, and ill deserve his pains ; Unteaching all his virtuous nature taught, Or books (fair virtue's advocates !) inspir'd.

For who receives him into public life ? Men of the world, the terras-filial breed, Welcome the modest stranger to their sphere, (Which glitter'd long, at distance, in his sight) And, in their hospitable arms, inclose : Men, who think nought so strong of the romance, So rank knight-errant, as a real friend : Men, that act up to reason's golden rule,




NIGHT VIII.


All weakness of affection quite subdu'd : Men, that would blush at being- thought sincere, And feign, for glory, the few faults they want ; That love a lie, where truth would pay as well ; As if to them, vice shone her own reward.

Lorenzo 1 canst thou bear a shocking sight ? Such, for Florello's sake, 'twill now appear : See, the steel'd files of season'd veterans, Train'd to the world, in burnisht falsehood bright; Deep in the fatal stratagems of peace ; All soft sensation, in the throng', rubb'd off; All their keen purpose, in politeness, sheath'd ; His friends eternal during interest ; His foes implacable when worth their while ; At war with ev'ry welfare, but their own ; As wise as Lucifer ; and half as good ; And by whom none, but Lucifer, can gain Naked, thro' these (so common fate ordains), Naked of heart, his cruel course he runs, Stung out of all, most amiable in life, Prompt truth, and open thought, and smiles un- Affection, as his species, wide diffus'd ; [feign'd ; Noble presumptions to mankind's renown ; Ingenuous trust, and confidence of love.

These claims to joy (if mortals joy might claim) Will cost him many a sigh ; till time, and pains, From the slow mistress of this school, experience. And her assistant, pausing, pale, distrust, .Purchase a dear-bought clue to lead his youth Thro' serpentine obliquities of life, And the dark labyrinth of human hearts. And happy ! if the clue shall come so cheap : For, -while we learn to fence with public guilt, Full oft we feel its foul contagion too,


192 THE COMPLAINT.

If less than heavenly virtue is our guard. Thus, a strange kind of curst necessity Brings down the sterling temper of his soul, By base alloy, to bear the current stamp, Below call'd wisdom ; sinks him into safety ; And brands him into credit with the world ; Where specious titles dignify disgrace, And nature's injuries are arts of life ; Where brighter reason prompts to bolder crimes ; And heavenly talents make infernal hearts ; That unsurmountable extreme of guilt !

Poor Machiavel ! who labour' d hard his plan, Forgot, that genius need not go to school ; ^ 3 ^ Forgot, that man, without a tutor wise, His plan had practis'd, long before 'twas writ. The world's all title-page ; there's no contents ; The world's all face ; the man who shows his heart, Is hooted for his nudities, and scorn'd. A man I knew, who liv'd upon a smile ; And well it fed him ; he look'd plump and fair ; While rankest venom foam'd thro' eveiy vein. Lorenzo ! what I tell thee, take not ill ! Living, he fawn'd on ev'ry fool alive ; And, dying, curs'd the friend on whom he liv'd. To such proficients thou art half a saint. In foreign realms (for thou hast travell'd far) How curious to contemplate two state-rooks, Studious their nests to feather in a trice, With all the necromantics of their art, Playing the game of faces on each other, Making court sweet-meats of their latent gall, In foolish hope, to steal each other's trust ; Both cheating, both exulting, both deceiv'd ; And, sometimes, both (let earth rejoice) undone !

V 1


NIGHT VIII. 193

Their parts we doubt not ; but be that their shame ; Shall men of talents, fit to rule mankind, Stoop to mean wiles, 'that would disgrace a fool ; And lose the thanks of those few friends they serve ? For who can thank the man he cannot see ?

Why so much cover ? It defeats itself. Ye, that know all things ! know ye not, men's hearts Are therefore known, because they are conceal'd For why conceal'd? The cause they need not tell? I give him joy, that's awkward at a lie ; Whose feeble nature truth keeps still in awe ; His incapacity is his renown. 'Tis great, 'tis manly, to disdain disguise ; It shows our spirit, or it proves our strength. Thou say'st, 'tis needful : is it therefore right ? Howe'er, I grant it some small sign of grace, To strain at an excuse : and wouldst thou then Escape that cruel need ? thou may'st, with ease ; Think no post nee-dful that demands a knave. When late our civil helm was shifting hands, So Pulteney thought : think better, if you can.

But this, how rare ! the public path of life Is dirty : yet, allow that dirt its due, It makes the noble mind more noble still : The world's no neuter; it will wound, or save ; Or virtue quench, or indignation fire. You say, the world, well known, will make a man : The world, well known, will give our hearts to

heaven. Or make us demons, long before we die.

To show how fair the world, thy mistress, shines Take either part, sure ills attend the choice ; Sure, tho' not equal, detriment ensues. ^

Not virtue's self is deified on earth ; V, &

VOL. i. o


194 THE COMPLAINT.

Virtue has her relapses, conflicts, foes ;

Foes, that ne'er fail to make her feel their hate.

Virtue has her peculiar set of pains.

True friends to virtue, last, and least, complain ;

But if they sigh, can others hope to smile ?

If wisdom has her miseries to mourn,

How can poor folly lead a happy life ?

And if both suffer, what has earth to boast,

Where he most happy, who the least laments ?

Where much, much patience, the most envied state,

And some forgiveness, needs, the best of friends ?

For friend, or happy life, who looks not higher

Of neither shall he find the shadow here.

"The world's sworn advocate, without a fee, Lorenzo smartly, with a smile, replies ; " Thus far thy song is right; and all must own, Virtue has her peculiar set of pains. And joys peculiar who to vice denies ? If vice it is, with nature to comply : s If pride, and sense, are so predominant, To check, not overcome, them, makes a saint, Can nature in a plainer voice proclaim Pleasure, and glory, the chief good of man ?"

Can pride, and sensuality, rejoice ? From purity of thought, all pleasure springs ; And, from an humble spirit, all our peace. Ambition, pleasure ! let us talk of these : Of these, the porch, and academy, talk'd ; Of these, each following age had much to say : Yet, unexhausted, still, the needful theme. Who talks of these, to mankind all at once He talks ; for where the saint from either free ? Are these thy refuge ? No : these rush upon thee ; Thy vitals seize, and vulture-like, devour ;


NIGHT VIII. 195

I'll try, if I can pluck thee from thy rock, Prometheus ! from this barren ball of earth ; If reason can unchain thee, thou art free.

And, first, thy Caucasus, ambition, calls ; Mountain of torments ! eminence of woes ! Of courted woes ! and courted thro' mistake ! 'Tis not ambition charms thee ; 'tis a cheat

Will make thee start, as H at his moor.

Dost grasp at greatness ? First, know what it is :

Thhik'st thou thy greatness in distinction lies ?

Not in the feather, wave it e'er so high,

By fortune stuck, to mark us from the throng*,

Is glory lodg'd : 'tis lodg'd in the reverse ;

In that which joins, in that which equals, all,

The monarch and his slave ; " A deathless soul,

Unbounded prospect, and immortal kin,

A father God, and brothers in the skies ;"

Elder, indeed, in time ; but less remote

In excellence, perhaps, than thought by man ;

Why greater what can fall, than what can rise ?

If still delirious, now, Lorenzo ! go ; And with thy full-blown brothers of the world, Throw scorn around thee ; cast it on thy slaves ; Thy slaves, and equals : how scorn cast on them Rebounds on thee

! If man is mean, as man, 

Arf thou a god ? If fortune makes him so, Beware the consequence : a maxim that, Which draws a monstrous picture of mankind, Where, in the drapery, the man is lost ; Externals flutt'ring, and the soul forgot. Thy greatest glory, when dispos'd to boast, Boast that aloud, in which thy servants share.

We wisely strip the steed we mean to buy : J udge we in their caparisons, of meu ?


196 THE COMPLAINT.

It nought avails thee, where, but what, thou art; All the distinctions of this little life Are quite cutaneous, foreign to the man, When, thro' death's streights, earth's subtle ser- pents creep,

Which wriggle into wealth, or climb renown. As crooked Satan the forbidden tree, They leave their party-colour'd robe behind, All that now glitters, while they rear aloft Their brazen crests, and hiss at us below. Of fortune's fucus strip them, yet alive ; Strip them of body, too ; nay, closer still, Away with all, but moral, in their minds ; And let, what then remains, impose their name, Pronounce them weak, or worthy ; great, or mean. How mean that snuff of glory fortune lights, And death puts out ! Dost thou demand a test, A test, at once, infallible, and short, Of real greatness ? That man greatly lives, Whate'er his fate, or fame, who greatly dies ; High-flush'd with hope, where heroes shall despair. If this a true criterion, many courts, Illustrious, might afford but few grandees.

Th' Almighty, from his throne, on earth surveys Nought greater, than an honest, humble heart ; An humble heart, his residence ! pronounc'd His second seat ; and rival to the skies. The private path, the secret acts of men, If noble, far the noblest of our lives ! How far above Lorenzo's glory sits Th' illustrious master of a name unknown ; Whose worth unrivall'd, and unwitness'd, loves Life's sacred shades, where gods converse with men ; And peace, beyond the world's conceptions, smiles !


NIGHT viii. 197

As thou (now dark), before we part, shalt see.

But thy great soul this skulking- glory scorns. Lorenzo's sick, but when Lorenzo's seen ; And, when he shrugs at public bus'ness, lies. Denied the public eye, the public voice, As if he liv'd on others' breath, he dies. Fain would he make the world his pedestal ; Mankind the gazers, the sole figure, he. Knows he, that mankind praise against their will, And mix as much detraction as they can ? Knows he, that faithless fame her whisper has, As well as trumpet ? That his vanity & Is so much tickled from not hearing all ?

Knows this all knower, that from itch of praise, Or, from an itch more sordid, when he shines, Taking his country by five hundred ears, Senates at once admire him, and despise, With modest laughter lining loud applause, Which makes the smile more mortal to his fame ? His fame, which (like the mighty Caesar), crown'd With laurels, in full senate, greatly falls, By seeming friends, that honour, and destroy. We rise in glory, as we sink in pride : Where boasting ends, there dignity begins : And yet, mistaken beyond all mistake, The l)lind Lorenzo's proud of being proud ; And dreams himself ascending in his fall.

An eminence, tho' fancied, turns the brain : All vice wants hellebore ; but of all vice, Pride loudest calls, and for the largest bowl ; Because, unlike all other vice, it flies, In fact, the point, in fancy most pursu'd. Who court applause, oblige the world in this ; They gratify man's passion to refuse.


198 THE COMPLAINT.

Superior honour, when assum'd, is lost ; Ev'n good men .turn banditti, and rejoice, Like Kouli-Kan, in plunder of the proud.

Tho' somewhat disconcerted, steady still To the world's cause, with half a face of joy, Lorenzo cries " Be, then, ambition cast ; Ambition's dearer far stands imimpeach'd, Gay pleasure ! proud ambition is her slave ; For her, he soars at great, and hazards ill ; For her, he fights, and bleeds, or overcomes ; And paves his way, with crowns, to reach her smile : Who can resist her charms ?" Or, should ? Lorenzo ! What mortal shall resist, where angels yield ? Pleasure's the mistress of ethereal powers ; For her contend the rival gods above ; Pleasure's the mistress of the world below ; And well it was for man, that pleasure charms ; How would all stagnate, bat for pleasure's ray ! How would the frozen stream of action cease ! What is the pulse of this so busy world ? The love of pleasure : that, thro' ev'ry vein, Throws motion, warmth ; and shuts out death from

Tho' various are the tempers of mankind, [life. Pleasure's gay family hold all in chains : Some most affect the black ; and some, the fair ; Some honest pleasure court; and some, obscene. Pleasures obscene are various, as the throng Of passions, that can err in human hearts ; Mistake their objects, or transgress their bounds. Think you there's but one whoredom? Whoredom, But when our reason licenses delight. [all,

Dost doubt, Lorenzo ? Thou shalt doubt no more. Thy father chides thy gallantries; yet hugs An ugly, common harlot, in the dark ;


NIGHT VIII. 199

A rank adulterer with others' gold !

And that hag-, vengeance, in a corner, charms.

Hatred her brothel has, as well as love,

Where horrid epicures debauch in blood.

Whate'er the motive, pleasure is the mark :

For her, the black assassin draws his sword ;

For her, dark statesmen trim their midnight lamp,

To which no single sacrifice may fall ;

For her, the saint abstains ; the miser starves ;

The stoic proud, for pleasure, pleasure scorn'd ;

For her, affliction's daughters grief indulge,

And find, or hope, a luxury in tears ;

For her, guilt, shame, toil, 4anger, we defy;

And, with an aim voluptuous, rush on death.

Thus universal her despotic power !

And as her empire wide, her praise is just. Patron of pleasure ! doter on delight ! I am thy rival ; pleasure I profess ; Pleasure the purpose of my gloomy song. Pleasure is nought but virtue's gayer name ; I wrong her still, I rate her worth too low ; Virtue the root, and pleasure is the flower ; And honest Epicurus' foes were fools.

But this sounds harsh, and gives the wise offence ; If o'erstrain'd wisdom still retains the name. How knits austerity her cloudy brow, And blames, as bold, and hazardous, the praise Of pleasure, to mankind, unprais'd, too dear ! Ye modern stoics ! hear my soft reply ; Their senses men will trust : we can't impose ; Or, if we could, is imposition right ? Own honey sweet ; but, owning, add this sLng ; " When mixt with poison, it is deadly too." Truth never was indebted to a lie.


200 THE COJ1PLAJKT.

Is nought but virtue to be prais'd, as good ? Why then is health preferr'd before disease ? What nature loves is good, without our leave. And where no future drawback cries, " Beware ;" Pleasure, tho' not from virtue, should prevail. 'Tis balm to life, and gratitude to heaven ; How cold our thanks for bounties unenjoy'd ! The love of pleasure is man's eldest-born, Born in his cradle, living to his tomb ; Wisdom, her younger sister, tho' more grave, Was meant to minister, and not to mar, Imperial pleasure, queen of human hearts. Lorenzo ! thou, her majesty's renown 'd, Tho' uncoift, counsel, learned in the world ! Who think'st thyself a Murray, with disdain May'st look on me. Yet, my Demosthenes ! Canst thou plead pleasure's cause as well as I ? Know'st thou her nature, purpose, parentage ? Attend my song, and thou shalt know them all ; And know thyself ; and know thyself to be (Strange truth !) the most abstemious man alive Tell not Calista ; she will laugh thee dead ;

Or send thee to her hermitage with L .

Absurd presumption ! thou who never knew'st

A serious thought! shalt thou dare dream of joy <*

No man ere found a happy life by chance ;

Or yawn'd it into being, with a wish ;

Or, with the snout of grov'ling appetite,

E'er smelt it out, and grubb'd it from the dirt.

An art it is, and must be learnt ; and learnt

With unremitting effort, or be lost ;

And leaves us perfect blockheads, in our bliss.

The clouds may drop down titles and estates ;

Wealth mav seek us ; but wisdom must be sought ;


NIGHT VIII. 201

Sought before all ; but (how unlike all else We seek on earth !) 'tis never sought in vain.

First, pleasure's birth, rise, strength, and gran- deur, see

Brought forth by wisdom, nurst by discipline. By patience taught, by perseverance crown'd, She rears her head majestic ; round her throne, Erected in the bosom of the just, Each virtue, listed, forms her manly guard. For what are virtues ? (formidable name !) What, but the fountain, or defence, of joy ? Why, then, commanded ? Need mankind commands, At once to merit, and to make, their bliss ? Great legislator ! scarce so great, as kind ! If men are rational, and love delight, Thy gracious law but flatters human choice ; In the transgression lies the penalty ; And they the most indulge, who most obey.

Of pleasure, next, the final cause explore : Its mighty purpose, its important end. Not to turn human brutal, but to build Divine on human, pleasure came from heaven. In aid to reason was the goddess sent ; To call up all its strength by such a charm. Pleasure, first, succours virtue ; in return, Virtue gives pleasure an eternal reign. What, but the pleasure of food, friendship, faith, Supports life natural, civil, and divine ? Tis from the pleasure of repast, we live' ; Tis from the pleasure of applause, we please ; Tis from the pleasure of belief, we pray (All pray'r would cease, if unbeliev'd the prize) : It serves ourselves, our species, and our God ; And to serve more, is past the sphere of man.


202 THE COMPLAINT.

Glide, then, for ever, pleasure's sacred stream ! Through Eden, as Euphrates ran, it

runs, 

And fosters ev'ry growth of happy life ; Makes a new Eden where it flows ; but such As must be lost, Lorenzo ! by thy fall.

" What mean I by thy fall?" Thou'lt shortly see, While pleasure's nature is at large display'd ; Already sung her origin, and ends. Those glorious ends, by kind, or by degree, When pleasure violates, 'tis then a vice, A vengeance too ; it hastens into pain. From due refreshment, life, health, reason, joy ; From wild excess, pain, grief, distraction, death ; Heaven's justice thfs proclaims, and that her love. What greater evil can I wish my foe, Than his full draught of pleasure, from a cask Unbroach'd by just authority, ungaug'd By temperance, by reason unrefin'd ? A thousand demons lurk within the lee. Heaven, others, and ourselves ! uninjur'd these, Drink deep ; the deeper, then, the more divine ; Angels are angels, from indulgence there ; 'Tis unrepenting pleasure makes a god.

Dost think thyself a god from other joys ? A victim rather ! shortly sure to bleed. [fail ?

The wrong must mourn : can heaven's appointments Can man outwit Omnipotence ? strike out A self-wrought happiness unmeant by him Who made us, and the world we would enjoy ? Who forms an instrument, ordains from whence Its dissonance, or harmony, shall rise. Heaven bid the soul this mortal frame inspire ! Bid virtue's ray divine inspire the soul With unprecarious flows of vital joy ;


NIGHT VIII. 203

And, without breathing-, man as well might hope For life, as without piety, for peace.

" Is virtue, then, and piety the same ?" No, ; piety is more ; 'tis virtue's source ; Mother of ev'ry worth, as that of joy. Men of the world this doctrine ill digest ; They smile at piety ; yet boast aloud Gooyd will to men ; nor know they strive to part What nature joins ; and thus confute themselves. With piety begins all good on earth ; 'Tis the first-born of rationality. Conscience, her first law broken, wounded lies ; "I D"* Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good ;

A feign'd affection bounds her utmost power. Some we can't love, but for th' Almighty's sake ; A foe to God was ne'er true friend to man Some sinister intent taints all he does ; And, in his kindest actions, he's unkind.

On piety, humanity is built ; And, on humanity, much happiness ; And yet still more on piety itself. A soul in commerce with her God, is heaven , Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life ; The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart. A deity believ'd, is joy begun ; A deity ador'd, is joy advanc'd ; A deity belov'd, is joy matur'd. Each branch of piety delight inspires ; Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next, O'er death's dark gulf, and all its horror hides ; Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy, That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still; Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream Of glory on the consecrated hour


204 THE COMPLAINT.

Of man, in audience with the Deity.

Who worships the great God, that instant joins

The first in heaven, and sets his foot on hell.

Lorenzo ! when wast thou at church before ? Thou think'st the service long: but is it just? Tho' just, unwelcome : thou hadst rather tread Unhallow'd ground ; the muse, to win thine ear, Must take an air less solemn. She complies. Good conscience ! at the sound the world retires ; Verse disaffects it, and Lorenzo smiles ; Yet has she her seraglio full of charms ; And such as age shall heighten, not impair. Art thou dejected ? Is thy mind o'ercast ? Amid her fair ones, thou the fairest choose, [truth; To chase thy gloom. " Go, fix some weighty Chain down some passion ; do some gen'rous good; Teach ignorance to see, or grief to smile ; Correct thy friend ; befriend thy greatest foe ; Or with warm heart, and confidence divine, Spring up, and lay strong hold on him who made

thee."

Thy gloom is scatter'd, sprightly spirits flow ; Tho' wither'd is thy vine, and harp unstrung.

Dost call the bowl, the viol, and the dance, Loud mirth, mad laughter? Wretched comforters! Physicians ! more than half of thy disease. Laughter, tho' never censur'd yet as sin, (Pardon a thought that only seems severe) Is half-immoral : is it much indulg'd ? By venting spleen, or dissipating thought, It shows a scorner, or it makes a fool ; And sins, as hurting others, or ourselves. Tis pride, or emptiness, applies the straw, That tickles little minds to mirth effuse ;


75



NIGHT viu. ( 205

Of grief approaching-, the portentous sign !

The house of laughter makes a house of woe.

A man triumphant is a monstrous sight ;

A man< dejected is a sight as mean.

What cause for triumph, where such ills abound ?

What for dejection, where presides a power,

Who call'd us into being to be blest ?

So grieve, as conscious, grief may rise to joy ;

So joy, as conscious, joy to grief may fall.

Most true, a wise man never will be sad ;

But neither will sonorous, bubbling mirth,

A shallow stream of happiness betray :

Too happy to be sportive, he's serene.

Yet wouldstthou laugh (but at thy own expense) This counsel strange should I presume to give- " Retire, and read thy Bible, to be gay." There truths abound of sov'reign aid to peace ; Ah ! do not prize them less, because inspir'd, As thou, and thine, are apt and proud to do. If not inspir'd, that pregnant page had stood, Time's treasure ! and the wonder of the wise ! Thou think'st, perhaps, thy soul alone at stake ; Alas ! Should men mistake thee for a fool ; What man of taste for genius, wisdom, truth, Tho' tender of thy fame, could interpose ? Belieye me, sense, here, acts a double part, And the true critic is a Christian too. [joy.

But these, thou think'st, are gloomy paths to True joy in sunshine ne'er was found at first ; They, first, themselves offend, who greatly please ; And" travel only gives us sound repose. Heaven sells all pleasure ; effort is the price ; The joys of conquest, are the joys of man ; And glory the victorious laurel spreads


206 THE COMPLAINT.

O'er pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid stream.

There is a time, when toil must be preferr'd, Or joy, by mistim'd fondness, is undone. A man of pleasure, is a man of pains. Thou wilt not take the trouble to be blest. False joys, indeed, are born from want of thought ; From thoughts full bent, and energy, the true ; And that demands a mind in equal poise, Remote from gloomy grief, and glaring joy. Milch joy not only speaks small happiness, Bui happiness that shortly must expire. Can joy, unbottom'd in reflection, stand ? And, in a tempest, can reflection live ? Can joy, like thine, secure itself an hour ? Can joy, like thine, meet accident unshock'd ? Or ope the door to honest poverty ? Or talk with threat'ning death, and not turn pale? In such a world, and such a nature, these Are needful fundamentals of delight : These fundamentals give delight indeed ; Delight, pure, delicate, and durable ; Delight, unshaken, masculine, divine ; A constant, and a sound, but serious joy.

Is joy the daughter of severity ? It is : yet far my doctrine from severe. " Rejoice for ever :" it becomes a man ; Exalts, and sets him nearer to the gods. " Rejoice for ever !" Nature cries, " Rejoice ;" And drinks to man, in her nectareous cup, Mixt up of delicates for every sense ; To the great founder of the bounteous feast, Drinks glory, gratitude, eternal praise ; And he that will not pledge her, is a churl. Ill firmly to support, good fully taste,


NIGHT VIII. 207

Is the whole science of felicity :

Yet sparing pledge : her bowl is not the best

Mankind can boast. " A rational repast ;

Exertion, vigilance, a mind in arms,

A military discipline of thought,

To foil temptation in the doubtful field ;

And ever- waking ardour for the right."

Tis these, first, give, then guard, a cheerful heart.

Nought that is right, think little ; well aware,

What reason bids, God bids ; by his command

How aggrandiz'd, the smallest thing we do !

Thus, nothing is insipid to the wise ;

To thee, insipid all, but what is mad ;

Joys season'd high, and tasting strong of guilt.

' f Mad ! (thou repliest, with indignation fir'd)

Of ancient sages proud to tread the steps,

3' I follow nature." Follow nature still,

But look it be thine own : Is conscience, then, No part of nature ? Is she not supreme ? Thou regicide ! O raise her from the dead !

1j Then, follow nature ; and resemble God.

When, spite of conscience, pleasure is pursu'd. Man's nature is unnaturally pleas'd : And what's unnatural, is painful too At intervals, and must disgust ev'n thee ! The fact thou know'st; but not, perhaps, the cause, Virtute's foundations with the world's were laid ; Heaven mixt her with our make, and twisted close Her sacred int'rests with the strings of life. Who breaks her awful mandate, shocks himself, His better self: and is it greater pain, Qur soul should murmur, or our dust repine ?

^ And one, in their eternal war, must bleed.

If one must suffer, which should least be spar'd?


208 THE COMPLAINT.

The pains of mind surpass the pains of sense : Ask, then, the gout, what torment is in guilt. The joys of sense to mental joys are mean : Sense on the present only feeds ; the soul On past, and future, forages for joy. Tis hers, by retrospect, thro' time to range ; And forward time's great sequel to survey. Could human courts take vengeance on the mind, Axes might rust, and racks, and gibbets, fall : Guard, then, thy mind, and leave the rest to fate.

Lorenzo ! wilt thou never be a man ? The man is dead, who for the body lives Lur'd, by the beating of his pulse, to list With ev'ry lust, that wars against his peace ; And sets him quite at variance with himself. Thyself, first, know ; then love :

a self there is 

Of virtue fond, that kindles at her charms. A self there is, as fond of eveiy vice, While every virtue wounds it to the heart : Humility degrades it, justice robs, Blest bounty beggars it, fair truth betrays, And godlike magnanimity destroys. This self, when rival to the former, scorn ; When not in competition, kindly treat, Defend it, feed it: but when virtue bids, Toss it, or to the fowls, or to the flames. And why ? 'tis love of pleasure bids thee bleed ; Comply, or own self-love extinct, or blind.

For what is vice ? self-love in a mistake : A poor blind merchant buying joys too dear. And virtue, what ? 'tis self-love in her wits, Quite skilful in the market of delight. Self-love's good sense is love of that dread power, From whom herself, and all she can enjoy.


NIGHT VIII. 209

Other self-love is but 'disguis'd self-hate ; More mortal than the malice of our foes ; A self-hate, now, scarce felt ; then felt full sore, When being, curst; extinction, loud implor'd ; And every thing preferr'd to what we are.

Jfet this self-love Lorenzo makes his choice ; And, in this choice triumphant, boasts of joy. How is his want of happiness betray 'd, By disaffection to the present hour ! Imagination wanders far a-field : The future pleases : why ? the present pains.

' But that's a secret." Yes, which all men know ; And know from thee, discover'd unawares. Thy ceaseless agitation, restless roll From cheat to cheat, impatient of a pause ; What is it ? 'Tis the cradle of the soul, From instinct sent, to rock her in disease, Which her physician, Reason, will not cure. A poor expedient ! yet thy best ; and while It mitigates thy pain, it owns it too.

Such are Lorenzo's wretched remedies ! The weak have remedies ; the wise have joys. Superior wisdom is superior bliss. And what sure mark distinguishes the wise ? Consistent wisdom ever wills the same ; Thy. fickle wish is ever on the wing Sick of herself, is folly's character ; As wisdom's is, a modest self-applause. A change of evils is thy good supreme ; Nor, but in motion, canst thou find thy rest. Man's greatest strength is shown in standing still. The first sure symptom of a mind in health, Is rest of heart, and pleasure felt at home. False pleasure from abroad her joys imports ; VOL. i. r


210 THE COMPLAINT.

Rich from within, and self-sustain'd, the true.

The true is fixt, and solid as a rock ;

Slipp'ry the false, and tossing-, as the wave.

This, a wild wanderer on earth, like Cain ;

That, like the fabled, self-enamour'd boy,

Home-contemplation her supreme delight ;

She dreads an interruption from without,

Smit with her own condition ; and the more

Intense she gazes, still it charms the more. No man is happy, till he thinks, on earth

There breathes not a more happy than himself:

Then envy dies, and love o'erflows on all ;

And love o'erflowing makes an angel here.

Such angels, all, intitled to repose

On him who governs fate : tho' tempest frowns,

Tho' nature shakes, how soft to lean on heaven ! To lean on him, on whom archangels lean ! With inward eyes, and silent as the grave, They stand collecting eveiy beam of thought, Till their hearts kindle with divine delight ; For all their thoughts, like angels, seen of old In Israel's dream, come from, and go to, heaven Hence, are they studious of sequester'd scenes ; While noise, and dissipation, comfort thee.

Were all men happy, revellings would cease, That opiate for inquietude within. Lorenzo ! never man was truly blest, But it compos'd, and gave him such a cast, As folly might mistake for want of joy. A cast, unlike the triumph of the proud ; A modest aspect, and a smile at heart. O for a joy from thy Philander's spring ! A spring perennial, rising in the breast, And permanent, as pure ! no turbid stream


NIGHT VIII. 9H

Of rapturous exultation, swelling high ; Which, like land floods, impetuous pour awhile, Then sink at once, and leave us in the mire. What does the man, who transient joy prefers ? What, but prefer the bubbles to the stream ?

Vain are all sudden sallies of delight ; Convulsions of a weak, distemper'd joy. Joy's a fixt state ; a tenure, not a start. Bliss there is none, but unprecarious bliss : That is the gem : sell all, and purchase that. Why go a begging to contingencies, Not gain'd with ease, nor safely lov'd, if gain'd ? At good fortuitous, draw back, and pause ; Suspect it ; what thou canst ensure, enjoy ; And nought but what thou giv'st thyself, is sure. Reason perpetuates joy that reason gives, And makes it as immortal as herself: To mortals, nought immortal, but their worth.

Worth, conscious worth ! should absolutely reign ; And other joys ask leave for their approach ; Nor, unexamin'd, ever leave obtain. Thou art all anarchy; a mob of joys Wage war, and perish in intestine broils ; Not the least promise of internal peace ! No bosom- comfort ! or unborrow'd bliss ! Thy thoughts are vagabonds ; all outward-bound, Mid sands, and rocks, and storms, to cruise for plea- sure ; [gain'd. If gain'd, dear bought; and better miss'd than Much pain must expiate, what much pain procur'd Fancy, and sense, from an infected shore, Thy cargo bring ; and pestilence the prize. Then, such thy thirst (insatiable thirst ! By fond indulgence but inflam'd the more !)


212 THE COMPLAINT.

Fancy still cruises, when poor sense is tir'd.

Imagination is the Paphian shop, Where feeble happiness, like Vulcan, lame, Bids foul ideas, in their dark recess, And hot as hell (which kindled the black fires), With wanton art, those fatal arrows form, [fame. Which murder all thy time, health, wealth, and Wouldst thou receive them, other thoughts there are, On angel wing, descending from above, Which these, with art divine, would counter- work, And form celestial armour for thy peace.

In this is seen imagination's guilt ; But who can count her follies ? She betrays thce, To think in grandeur there is something great. For works of curious art, and ancient fame, Thy genius hungers, elegantly pain'd ; And foreign climes must cater for thy taste. Hence, what disaster ! Tho' the price was paid, That persecuting priest, the Turk of Rome, Whose foot (ye gods !) tho' cloven, must be kiss'd, Detained thy dinner on the Latian shore ; (Such is the fate of honest Protestants !) And poor magnificence is starv'd to death. Hence just resentment, indignation, ire ! Be pacified, if outward things are great, Tis magnanimity great things to scorn ; Pompous expenses, and parades august, And courts, that insalubrious soil to peace. True happiness ne'er enter'd at an eye ; True happiness resides in things unseen. No smiles of fortune ever blest the bad, Nor can her frowns rob innocence of joys ; That jewel wanting, triple crowns are poor ; So tell his holiness, and be reveng-'d.


NIGHT VIII. 213

Pleasure, we both agree, is man's chief good ; Our only contest, what deserves the name. Give pleasure's name to nought, hut what has pass'd Th' authentic seal of reason (which like Yorke, Demurs on what it passes), and defies The tooth of time ; when past, a pleasure still ; Dearer on trial, lovelier for its age, And doubly to be priz'd, as it promotes Our future, while it forms our present, joy. Some joys the future overcast ; and some Throw all their beams that way, and gild the tomb. Some joys endear eternity ; some give Abhorr'd annihilation dreadful charms. Are rival joys contending for thy choice ? Consult thy whole existence, and be safe ; That oracle will put all doubt to flight. Short is the lesson, tho' my lecture long, Be good and let heaven answer for the rest. Yet, with a sigh o'er all mankind, I grant In this our day of proof, our land of hope, The good man has his clouds that intervene ; Clouds, that obscure his sublunary day, But never conquer : ev'n the best must own, Patience, and resignation, are the pillars Of human peace on earth. The pillars, these : But 'those of Seth not more remote from thee, Till this heroic lesson thou hast learnt ; To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain. Fir'd at the prospect of unclouded bliss, Heaven in reversion, like the sun, as yet Beneath th' horizon, cheers us in this world ; It sheds, on souls susceptible of light, The glorious dawn of our eternal day.

" This (says Lorenzo) is a fair harangue :


214 THE COMPLAINT.

But can harangues blow back strong nature's

stream ;

Or stem the tide heaven pushes thro' our veins. Which sweeps away man's impotent resolves, And lays his labour level with the world '?"

Themselves men make their comment on man- kind ;

And think nought is, but what they find at home : Thus, weakness to chimera turns the truth. Nothing romantic has the muse prescrib'd. 1 Above, Lorenzo saw the man of earth, The mortal man ; and wretched was the sight. To balance that, to comfort, and exalt Now see the man immortal : him, I mean. Who lives as such ; whose heart, full bent on heaven , Leans all that way, his bias to the stars. The world's dark shades, in contrast set, shall raise His lustre more ; tho' bright, without a foil ; Observe his awful portrait, and admire Nor stop at wonder; imitate, and live

Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw. What nothing less than angel can exceed { A man on earth devoted to the skies ; Like ships in sea, while in, above the world.

With aspect mild, and elevated eye, Behold him seated on a mount serene, Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm ; All the black cares, and tumults, of this life, Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet, Excite his pity, not impair his peace. Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred, and the slave, A mingled mob ! a wand'ring herd ! he sees, Bewilder'd in the

vale ; in all unlike ! 

1 In a former Night.


NIGHT VIII. 216

His full reverse in all ! What higher praise ? What stronger demonstration of the right ?

The present all their care ; the future, his. When public welfare calls, or private want, They give to fame ; his bounty he conceals. Their virtues varnish nature ; his exalt. Mankind's esteem they court ; and he, his own. Theirs, the wild chase of false felicities ; His, the compos'd possession of the true. Alike throughout is his consistent peace, All of one colour, and an even thread ; While party-colour 'd shreds of happiness, With hideous gaps between, patch up for them A madman's robe ; each puff of fortune blows The tatters by, and shows their nakedness..

He sees with other eyes than theirs : where they Behold a sun, he spies a Deity ; What makes them only smile, makes him adore. Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees ; An empire, in his balance, weighs a grain. They things terrestrial worship, as divine : His hopes immortal blow them by, as dust, That dims his sight, and shortens his survey, Which longs, in infinite, to lose all bound. Titles and honours (if they prove his fate) He' lays aside to find his dignity ; No dignity they find in aught besides. They triumph in externals (which conceal Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse. Himself too much he prizes to be proud, And nothing thinks so great in man, as man. Too dear he holds his int'rest, to neglect Another's welfare, or his right invade ; Their int'rest, like a lion, Jives on prey.


216 THE COMPLAINT.

They kindle at the shadow of a wrong 1 ;

Wrong- he sustains with temper, looks on heaven,

Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe ; [peaco.

Nought, but what wounds his virtue, wounds his

A cover'd heart their character defends ;

A cover'd heart denies him half his praise.

With nakedness his innocence agrees ;

While their broad foliage testifies their fall :

Their no joys end, where his full feast begins :

His joys create, theirs murder, future bliss.

To triumph in existence, his alone ;

And his alone, triumphantly to think

His true existence is not yet begun.

His glorious course was, yesterday, complete ;

Death, then, was welcome ; yet life still is sweet.

But nothing charms Lorenzo, like the firm, Undaunted breast and whose is that high praise ? They yield to pleasure, tho' they danger brave, And show no fortitude, but in the field ; If there they show it, 'tis for glory shown ; Nor will that cordial always man their hearts. A cordial his sustains, that cannot fail ; By pleasure unsubdu'd, unbroke by pain, He shares in that Omnipotence he trusts. All-bearing, all-attempting, till he falls ; And when he falls, writes Vici on his shield. From magnanimity, all fear above ; From nobler recompense, above applause ; Which owes to man's short out-look all its charms.

Backward to credit what he never felt, Lorenzo cries, " Where shines this miracle ? From what root rises this immortal man?" A root that grows not in Lorenzo's ground ; The root dissect, nor wonder at the flower.


NIGHT VIII. 217

He follows nature (not like 'thee) and shows us An unin verted system of a man. His appetite wears reason's golden chain, And finds, in due restraint, its luxury. His passion, like an eagle well reclaim'd, Is taught to fly at nought, but infinite. Patient his hope, unanxious is his care, His caution fearless, and his grief (if grief The gods ordain) a stranger to despair. And why ? Because affection, more than meet, His wisdom leaves not disengaged from heaven. Those secondary goods that smile on earth, He, loving in proportion, loves in peace. They most the world enjoy, who least admire. His understanding 'scapes the common cloud Of fumes, arising from a boiling breast. His head is clear, because his heart is cool, By worldly competitions uninflam'd. The mod'rate movements of his soul admit Distinct ideas, and matur'd debate, An eye impartial, and an even scale ; Whence judgment sound, and unrepenting choice. Thus, in a double sense, the good are wise ; On its own dunghill, wiser than the world. What, then, the world ? it must be doubly weak ; Strange truth ! as soon would they believe their Yet thus it is ; nor otherwise can be ; [creed . So far from aught romantic, what I sing. Bliss has no being, virtue has no strength, But from the prospect of immortal life. Who think earth all, or (what weighs just the same) Who care no farther, must prize what it yields ; Fond of its fancies, proud of its parades.

See page 207, line 15.


218 THE COMPLAINT.

Who thinks earth nothing, can't its charms admire ;

He can't a foe, tho' most malignant, hate,

Because that hate would prove his greater foe.

Tis hard for them (yet who so loudly boast

Good- will to men ?) to love their dearest friend ;

For may not he invade their good supreme,

Where the least jealousy turns love to gall ?

All shines to them, that for a season shines.

Each act, each thought, he questions, " What its weight,

Its colour what, a thousand ages hence ?"

And what it there appears, he deems it now.

Hence, pure are the recesses of his soul.

The godlike man has nothing to conceal.

His virtue, constitutionally deep,

Has habits firmness, and affection's flame ;

Angels, allied, descend to feed the fire;

And death, which others slays, makes him a god.

And now, Lorenzo ! bigot of this world ! Wont to disdain poor bigots caught by heaven ! Stand by thy scorn, and be reduc'd to nought : For what artthou? Thou boaster! while thy glare, Thy gaudy grandeur, and mere worldly worth, Like a broad mist, at distance, strikes us most ; And, like a mist, is nothing when at hand ; His merit, like a mountain, on approach, Swells more, and rises nearer to the skies, By promise now, and, by possession, soon, (Too soon, too much, it cannot be) his own.

From this thy just annihilation rise, Lorenzo ! rise to something, by reply. The world, thy client, listens, and expects ; And longs to crown thee with immortal praise Canst thou be silent ? no ; for wit is thine ;


NIGHT VIII. 219

And wit talks most, when least she has to say, And reason interrupts not her career. She'll say that mists above the mountains rise ; And, with a thousand pleasantries, amuse ; She'll sparkle, puzzle, flutter, raise a dust, And fly conviction, in the dust she rais'd.

Wit, how delicious to man's dainty taste ! Tis precious, as the vehicle of sense ; But, as its substitute, a dire disease. Pernicious talent ! flatter'd by the world, By the blind world, which thinks the talent rare. Wisdom is rare, Lorenzo ! wit abounds ; Passion can give it ; sometimes wine inspires The lucky flash; and madness rarely fails. Whatever cause the spirit strongly stirs, Confers the bays, and rivals thy renown. For thy renown, 'twere well, was this the worst ; Chance often hits it; and, to pique thee more, See dulness, blund'ring on vivacities, Shakes her sage head at the calamity,

\

Discerns, compares, weighs, separates, infers, Seizes the right, and holds it to the last ; How rare ! In senates, synods, sought in vain ; Or 'if there found, 'tis sacred to the few ; While a lewd prostitute to multitudes, Frequent, as fatal, wit : in civil life, Wit makes an enterpriser ; ' sense, a man. Wit hates authority ; commotion loves, And thinks herself the lightning of the storm. In states, 'tis dangerous ; in religion, death : Shall wit turn Christian, when the dull believe ? Sense is our helmet, wit is but the plume ;


Which has expos'd, and let her down to thee. But wisdom, awful wisdom ! which inspects,


220 THE COMPLAINT.

The plume exposes, 'tis out helmet saves. Sense is the diamond, weighty, solid, sound ; When cut by wit, it casts a brighter beam ; Yet, wit apart, it is a diamond still. Wit, widow'd of good sense, is worse than nought ; It hoists more sail to run against a rock. Thus, a half-Chesterfield is quite a fool ; Whom dull fools scorn, and bless their want of wit.

How ruinous the rock I warn thee shun, Where sirens sit, to sing thee to thy fate ! A joy, in which our reason bears no part, Is but a sorrow tickling, ere it stings. Let not the cooings of the world allure thee ; Which of her lovers ever found her true ? Happy ! of this bad world who little know ? And yet, we much must know her, to be safe, To know the world, not love her, is thy point ; She gives but little, nor that little, long. There is, I grant, a triumph of the pulse ; A dance of spirits, a mere froth of joy, Our thoughtless agitation's idle child, That mantles high, that sparkles, and expires, Leaving the soul more vapid than before. An animal ovation ! such as holds No commerce with our reason, but subsists On juices, thro' the well ton'd tubes, well strain'd A nice machine ! scarce ever tun'd aright ; And when it jars thy sirens sing no more, Thy dance is done ; the demi-god is thrown (Short apotheosis !) beneath the man, In coward gloom immers'd, or fell despair.

Art thou yet dull enough despair to dread, And startle at destruction ? If thou art, Accept a buckler, take it to the field ;


NIGHT VIII. Ziij

(A field of battle is this mortal life !) When danger threatens, lay it on thy heart ; A single sentence proof against the world. " Soul, hody, fortune ! Every good pertains To one of these ; but prize not all alike ; | The goods of fortune to thy body's health, ' Body to soul, and soul submit to God." Wouldst thou build lasting happiness ? Do this ; Th' inverted pyramid can never stand.

Is this truth doubtful ? it outshines the sun ; Nay, the sun shines not, but to show us this, The single lesson of mankind on earth. And yet yet, what ? no news ! Mankind is mad ; Such

mighty numbers list against the right, 

(And what can't numbers, when bewitch'd,

achieve !)

They talk themselves to something like belief, That all earth's joys are theirs : as Athen's fool Grinn'd from the port, on every sail his own. They grin ; but wherefore ? and how long the

laugh ?

Half ignorance, their mirth ; and half, a lie ; To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they

smile.

Hard either task! the most abandon'd own, That others, if abandon'd, are undone : Then, for themselves, the moment reason wakes, (And Providence denies it long repose) O how laborious is their gaiety ! They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen, Scarce muster patience to support the farce, And pump sad laughter till the curtain falls. Scarce, did I say ? some cannot sit it out ; Oft their own daring hands the curtain draw,


222 THE COMPLAINT.

Arid shoAV us what their joy, by their despair.

The clotted hair ! gor'd breast ! blaspheming- eye ! Its impious fury still alive in death ! Shut, shut the shocking scene. But heaven denies A cover to such guilt ; and so should man. Look round, Lorenzo ! see the reeking blade, Th' invenom'd phial, and the fatal ball ; The strangling cord, and suffocating stream ; The loathsome rottenness, and foul decays From raging riot (slower suicides !) And pride in these, more execrable still ! How horrid all to thought ! But horrors, these, That vouch the truth ; and aid my feeble song.

From vice, sense, fancy, no man can be blest : Bliss is too great, to lodge within an hour : When an immortal being aims at bliss, Duration is essential to the name. O for a joy from reason ! Joy from that, Which makes man man ; and, exercis'd aright, Will make him more : a bounteous joy ! that gives, And promises ; that weaves, with art divine, The richest prospect into present peace : A joy ambitious ! joy in common held With thrones ethereal, and their greater far ; A joy high-privileg'd from chance, time, death ! A joy, which death shall double, judgment crown ! Crown'd higher, and still higher, at each stage, Thro' blest eternity's long day ; yet still, Not more remote from sorrow, than from him, Whose lavish hand, whose love stupendous, pours So much of deity on guilty dust. There, O my Lucia ! may I meet thee there, Where not thy presence can improve my bliss !

Affects not this the sages of the world ?


,-v


NIGHT VIII 223

Can nought affect them, but what fools them too? Eternity, depending on an hour, [praise,

Makes serious thought man's wisdom, joy, and Ncii' need you blush (tho' sometimes your designs May shun the light) at your designs on heaven : Sole point ! where over-bashful is your blame. Are you not wise ? You know you are : yet hear One truth, amid your num'rous schemes, mislaid, Or overlook'd, or thrown aside, if seen ; " Our schemes to plan by this world, or the next, Is the sole difference between wise and fool." All worthy men will weigh you in this scale ; What wonder then, if they pronounce you light ? Is their esteem alone not worth your care ? Accept my simple scheme of common sense : Thus, save your fame, and make two worlds your own.

The world replies not ; but the world persists ; And puts the cause off to the longest day, Planning evasions for the day of doom. So far, at that re-hearing, from redress, They then turn witnesses against themselves, Hear that, Lorenzo ! Nor be wise to-morrow. Haste, haste ! a man, by nature, is in haste ; For who shall answer for another hour ? 'Tis- highly prudent, to make one sure friend ; And that thou canst not do, this side the skies.

Ye sons of earth ! (nor willing to be more !) Since verse you think from priestcraft somewhat

free,

Thus, in an age so gay, the muse plain truths (Truths, which, at church, you might have heard

in prose) Has ventur'd into light ; well pleas'd the verse


224 THE COMPLAINT.

Should be forgot, if you the truths retain ; And crown her with your welfare, not your praise. But praise she need not fear : I see my fate ; And headlong- leap, like Curtius, down the gulf. Since many an ample volume, mighty tome, Must die ; and die unwept ; O thou minute Devoted page ! go forth among thy foes ; Go, nobly proud of martyrdom for truth, And die a double death : mankind incens'd, Denies thee long to live : nor shalt thou rest, When thou art dead ; in Stygian shades arraign'd By Lucifer, as traitor to his throne ; And bold blasphemer of his friend, the world ; The world, whose legions cost him slender pay, And volunteers, around his banner swarm ; Prudent, as Prussia, in her zeal for Gaul.

" Are all, then, fools ?" Lorenzo cries. Yes, all, But such as hold this doctrine (new to thee) ; " The mother of true wisdom is the will ;" The noblest intellect, a fool without it. World-wisdom much has done, and more may do, In arts and sciences, in wars, and peace ; But art and science, like thy wealth, will leave thee. And make thee twice a beggar at thy death. This is the most indulgence can afford ; " Thy wisdom all can do, but make thee wise." Nor think this censure is severe on thee ; Satan, thy master, I dare call a dunce.