1 WHEN foes insult, and prudent friends dispense,
2 In pity's strains, the worst of insolence,
3 Oft with thee, LLOYD, I steal an hour from grief,
4 And in thy social converse find relief.
5 The mind, of solitude, impatient grown,
6 Loves any sorrows rather than her own.
7 LET slaves to business, bodies without soul,
8 Important blanks in Nature's mighty roll,
9 Solemnize nonsense in the day's broad glare,
10 We NIGHT prefer, which heals or hides our care.
11 ROGUES justified and by success made bold,
12 Dull fools and coxcombs sanctified by Gold,
13 Freely may bask in fortune's partial ray,
14 And spread their feathers op'ning to the day;
15 But thread-bare Merit dares not shew the head
16 'Till vain Prosperity retires to bed.
17 Misfortunes, like the Owl, avoid the light;
18 The sons of CARE are always sons of NIGHT.
19 THE Wretch bred up in Method's drowsy school,
20 Whose only merit is to err by rule,
21 Who ne'er thro' heat of blood was tripping caught,
22 Nor guilty deem'd of one eccentric thought,
23 Whose soul directed to no use is seen
24 Unless to move the body's dull Machine;
25 Which, clock-work like, with the same equal pace,
26 Still travels on thro' life's insipid space,
27 Turns up his eyes to think that there should be
28 Among God's creatures too such things as we.
29 Then for his night-cap calls, and thanks the pow'rs
30 Which kindly give him grace to keep good hours.
31 Good hours — Fine words — but was it ever seen
32 That all men could agree in what they mean?
33 FLORIO, who many years a course hath run
34 In downright opposition to the sun,[Page 3]
35 Expatiates on good hours, their cause defends
36 With as much vigour as our PRUDENT FRIENDS.
37 Th' uncertain term no settled notion brings,
38 But still in diff'rent mouths mean diff'rent things.
39 Each takes the phrase in his own private view,
40 With PRUDENCE it is ten, with FLORIO two.
41 Go on, ye fools, who talk for talking sake,
42 Without distinguishing distinctions make;
43 Shine forth in native folly, native pride,
44 Make yourselves rules to all the world beside;
45 Reason, collected in herself disdains
46 The slavish yoke of arbitrary chains,
47 Steady and true each circumstance she weighs,
48 Nor to bare words inglorious tribute pays.
49 Men of sense live exempt from vulgar awe,
50 And Reason to herself alone is law.
51 That freedom she enjoys with lib'ral mind
52 Which she as freely grants to all mankind.
53 No idol titled name her rev'rence stirs,
54 No hour she blindly to the rest prefers,
55 All are alike, if they're alike employ'd,
56 And all are good if virtuously enjoy'd.
57 LET the sage DOCTOR (think him one we know)
58 With scraps of antient learning overflow,[Page 4]
59 In all the dignity of wig declare
60 The fatal consequence of midnight air,
61 How damps and vapours as it were by stealth,
62 Undermine life, and sap the walls of health.
63 For me let GALEN moulder on the shelf,
64 I'll live, and be physician to myself.
65 Whilst soul is join'd to body, whether fate
66 Allot a longer or a shorter date;
67 I'll make them live, as brother should with brother,
68 And keep them in good humour with each other.
69 THE surest road to health, say what they will,
70 Is never to suppose we shall be ill.
71 Most of those evils we poor mortals know
72 From doctors and imagination flow.
73 Hence to old women with your boasted rules,
74 Stale traps, and only sacred now to fools;
75 As well may sons of physic hope to find
76 One medicine, as one hour, for all mankind.
77 IF RUPERT after ten is out of bed
78 The fool next morning can't hold up his head,
79 What reason this which me to bed must call
80 Whose head (thank heaven) never aches at all?
81 In diff'rent courses diff'rent tempers run,
82 He hates the Moon, I sicken at the sun.[Page 5]
83 Wound up at twelve, at noon his clock goes right,
84 Mine better goes, wound up at twelve at night.
85 THEN in Oblivion's grateful cup I drown
86 The galling sneer, the supercilious frown,
87 The strange reserve, the proud affected state
88 Of upstart knaves grown rich and fools grown great.
89 No more that abject wretch disturbs my rest
90 Who meanly overlooks a friend distrest.
91 Purblind to poverty the Worldling goes,
92 And scarce sees rags an inch beyond his nose.
93 But from a croud can single out his grace
94 And cringe and creep to fools who strut in lace.
95 WHETHER those classic regions are survey'd
96 Where we in earliest youth together stray'd,
97 Where hand in hand we trod the flow'ry shore,
98 Tho' now thy happier genius runs before,
99 When we conspir'd a thankless wretch to raise,
100 And taught a stump to shoot with pilser'd praise,
101 Who once for Rev'rend merit famous grown
102 Gratefully strove to kick his MAKER down,
103 Or if more gen'ral arguments engage,
104 The court or camp, the pulpit, bar, or stage,
105 If half-bred surgeons, whom men doctors call,
106 And lawyers, who were never bred at all,[Page 6]
107 Those mighty-letter'd monsters of the earth,
108 Our pity move, or exercise our mirth,
109 Or if in tittle-tattle tooth-pick way
110 Our rambling thoughts with easy freedom stray,
111 A gainer still thy friend himself must find,
112 His grief suspended, and improv'd his mind.
113 WHILST peaceful slumbers bless the homely bed,
114 Where virtue, self-approv'd, reclines her head;
115 Whilst vice beneath imagin'd horrors mourns,
116 And conscience plants the villains couch with thorns,
117 Impatient of restraint, the active mind,
118 No more by servile prejudice confin'd,
119 Leaps from her seat, as wak'ned from a trance,
120 And darts through Nature at a single glance.
121 Then we our friends, our foes, ourselves, survey,
122 And see by NIGHT what fools we are by DAY.
123 STRIPT of her gaudy plumes and vain disguise
124 See where Ambition mean and loathsome lies!
125 Reflexion with relentless hand pulls down
126 The tyrant's bloody wreath and ravish'd crown.
127 In vain he tells of battles bravely won,
128 Of nations conquer'd, and of Worlds undone;
129 Triumphs like these but ill with Manhood suit,
130 And sink the conqueror beneath the brute.[Page 7]
131 But if in searching round the world we find
132 Some gen'rous youth, the Friend of all mankind,
133 Whose anger, like the bolt of JOVE, is sped
134 In terrors only at the guilty head,
135 Whose mercies, like Heav'n's dew, refreshing fall
136 In gen'ral love and charity to all,
137 Pleas'd we behold such worth on any throne,
138 And doubly pleas'd we find it on our own.
139 THROUGH a false medium things are shewn by day,
140 Pomp, wealth, and titles judgment lead astray.
141 How many from appearance borrow state
142 Whom NIGHT disdains to number with the Great!
143 Must not we laugh to see you lordling proud
144 Snuff up vile incense from a fawning croud?
145 Whilst in his beam surrounding clients play,
146 Like insects in the sun's enliv'ning ray,
147 Whilst, JEHU like, he drives at furious rate,
148 And seems the only charioteer of state,
149 Talking himself into a little God,
150 And ruling empires with a single nod,
151 Who would not think, to hear him law dispense,
152 That he had Int'rest, and that they had sense?
153 Injurious thought! beneath NIGHT's honest shade
154 When pomp is buried and false colours fade,[Page 8]
155 Plainly we see at that impartial hour
156 Them dupes to pride, and him the tool of pow'r.
157 GOD help the man, condemn'd by cruel fate
158 To court the seeming, or the real great.
159 Much sorrow shall he feel, and suffer more
160 Than any slave who labours at the oar.
161 By slavish methods must he learn to please,
162 By smooth-tongu'd flatt'ry, that curst court-disease,
163 Supple to ev'ry wayward mood strike sail,
164 And shift with shifting humour's peevish gale.
165 To Nature dead he must adopt vile art,
166 And wear a smile, with anguish in his heart.
167 A sense of honour would destroy his schemes,
168 And conscience ne'er must speak unless in dreams.
169 When he hath tamely borne for many years
170 Cold looks, forbidding frowns, contemptuous sneers,
171 When he at last expects, good easy man,
172 To reap the profits of his labour'd plan,
173 Some cringing LACQUEY, or rapacious WHORE,
174 To favours of the great the surest door,
175 Some CATAMITE, or PIMP, in credit grown,
176 Who tempts another's wife, or sells his own,
177 Steps cross his hopes, the promis'd boon denies,
178 And for some MINION'S MINION claims the prize.
179 FOE to restraint, unpractis'd in deceir,
180 Too resolute, from Nature's active heat,
181 To brook affronts, and tamely pass them by;
182 Too proud to flatter, too sincere to lie,
183 Too plain to please, too honest to be great;
184 Give me, kind Heaven, an humbler, happier state:
185 Far from the place where men with pride deceive,
186 Where rascals promise, and where fools believe;
187 Far from the walk of folly, vice and strife,
188 Calm, independent, let me steal thro life,
189 Nor one vain wish my steady thoughts beguile
190 To fear his lordship's frown, or court his smile.
191 Unfit for greatness, I her snares defy,
192 And look on riches with untainted eye.
193 To others let the glitt'ring bawbles fall,
194 Content shall place us far above them all.
195 SPECTATORS only on this bustling stage.
196 We see what vain designs mankind engage.
197 Vice after vice with ardour they pursue,
198 And one old folly brings forth twenty new.
199 Perplex'd with trifles thro' the vale of life,
200 Man strives 'gainst man, without a cause for strife;
201 Armies embattled meet, and thousands bleed,
202 For some vile spot which cannot fifty feed.[Page 10]
203 Squirrels for nuts contend, and, wrong or right,
204 For the world's empire kings ambitious fight,
205 What odds? — to us 'tis all the self-same thing,
206 A NUT, a WORLD, a SQUIRREL, and a KING.
207 BRITONS, like Roman spirits fam'd of old,
208 Are cast by Nature in a PATRIOT mould;
209 No private joy, no private grief they know,
210 Their soul's engross'd by public weal or woe.
211 Inglorious ease like ours, they greatly scorn:
212 Let care with nobler wreaths their brows adorn.
213 Gladly they toil beneath the statesman's pains,
214 Give them but credit for a statesman's brains.
215 All would be deem'd e'en from the cradle fit
216 To rule in politics as well as wit.
217 The grave, the gay, the fopling, and the dunce,
218 Start up (God bless us!) statesmen all at once.
219 HIS mighty charge of souls the priest forgets,
220 The court-bred lord his promises and debts,
221 Soldiers their same, misers forget their pelf,
222 The rake his mistress, and the fop himself,
223 Whilst thoughts of higher moment claim their care,
224 And their wife heads the weight of kingdoms bear.
225 FEMALES themselves the glorious ardour feel,
226 And boast an equal, or a greater zeal.
227 From nymph to nymph the state infection flies,
228 Swells in her breast, and sparkles in her eyes.
229 O'er whelm'd by politics lye malice, pride,
230 Envy and twenty other faults beside.
231 No more their little flutt'ring hearts confess
232 A passion for applause, or rage for dress;
233 No more they pant for PUBLIC RAREE-SHOWS,
234 Or lose one thought on monkeys or on beaux.
235 Coquettes no more pursue the jilting plan,
236 And lustful prudes forget to rail at man.
237 The darling theme CAECILIA's self will chuse,
238 Nor thinks of scandal whilst she talks of news.
239 The CIT, a COMMON-COUNCIL-MAN by place,
240 Ten thousand mighty nothings in his face,
241 By situation as by nature great,
242 With nice precision parcels out the state,
243 Proves and disproves, affirms and then denies,
244 Objects himself, and to himself replies,
245 Wielding aloft the Politician rod,
246 Makes P— by turns a devil and a god,
247 Maintains e'en to the very teeth of pow'r
248 The same thing right and wrong in half an hour,[Page 12]
249 Now all is well, now he suspects a plot,
250 And plainly proves, WHATEVER IS, IS NOT.
251 Fearfully wise, he shakes his empty head,
252 And deals out empires as he deals out thread.
253 His useless scales are in a corner flung,
254 And Europe's balance hangs upon his tongue.
255 PEACE to such triflers, be our happier plan
256 To pass thro' life as easy as we can.
257 Who's in or out, who moves this grand machine,
258 Nor stirs my curiosity nor spleen.
259 Secrets of state no more I wish to know
260 Than secret movements of a PUPPET-SHEW;
261 Let but the puppets move, I've my desire,
262 Unseen the hand which guides the MASTER-WIRE.
263 WHAT is't to us, if taxes rise or fall,
264 Thanks to our fortune we pay none at all.
265 Let muckworms, who in dirty acres deal,
266 Lament those hardships which we cannot feel.
267 His GRACE, who smarts, may bellow if he please,
268 But must I bellow too, who sit at ease?
269 By custom safe the poet's numbers flow,
270 Free as the light and air some years ago.
271 No statesman e'er will find it worth his pains
272 To tax our labours, and excise our brains.[Page 13]
273 Burthens like these vile earthly buildings bear,
274 No tribute's laid on Castles in the Air.
275 LET then the flames of war destructive reign,
276 And ENGLAND's terrors awe imperious SPAIN;
277 Let ev'ry venal clan and neutral tribe
278 Learn to receive conditions, not prescribe;
279 Let each new-year call loud for new supplies,
280 And tax on tax with doubled burthen rise;
281 Exempt we sit, by no rude cares opprest,
282 And, having little, are with little blest.
283 All real ills in dark oblivion lye,
284 And joys, by fancy form'd, their place supply.
285 NIGHT's laughing hours unheeded slip away,
286 Nor one dull thought foretells approach of DAY.
287 THUS have we liv'd, and whilst the fates afford
288 Plain Plenty to supply the frugal board,
289 Whilst MIRTH, with DECENCY his lovely bride,
290 And Wine's gay GOD, with TEMP'RANCE by his side,
291 Their welcome visit pay; whilst HEALTH attends
292 The narrow circle of our chosen Friends,
293 Whilst frank GOOD-HUMOUR consecrates the treat,
294 And — makes society complete,
295 Thus WILL we live, tho' in our teeth are hurl'd
296 Those Hackney Strumpets, PRUDENCE and the WORLD.
297 PRUDENCE, of old a sacred term, imply'd
298 Virtue with godlike wisdom for her guide,
299 But now in gen'ral use is known to mean
300 The stalking-horse of vice, and folly's screen.
301 The sense perverted we retain the name,
302 Hypocrisy and Prudence are the same.
303 A TUTOR once, more read in men than books,
304 A kind of crafty knowledge in his looks,
305 Demurely sly, with high preferment blest,
306 His fav'rite Pupil in these words addrest:
307 WOULD'ST thou, my son, be wise and virtuous deem'd,
308 By all mankind a prodigy esteem'd?
309 Be this thy rule; be what men prudent call;
310 PRUDENCE, almighty PRUDENCE gives thee all.
311 Keep up appearances; there lies the test,
312 The world will give thee credit for the rest.
313 Outward be fair, however foul within;
314 Sin if thou wilt, but then in secret sin.
315 This maxim's into common favour grown,
316 Vice is no longer vice unless 'tis known.
317 Virtue indeed may barefac'd take the field,
318 But vice is virtue, when 'tis well conceal'd.
319 Should raging passions drive thee to a whore,
320 Let PRUDENCE lead thee to a postern door;[Page 15]
321 Stay out all night, but take especial care
322 That PRUDENCE bring thee back to early prayer.
323 As one with watching and with study faint,
324 Reel in a drunkard, and reel out a saint.
325 WITH joy the youth this useful lesson heard,
326 And in his mem'ry stor'd each precious word,
327 Successfully pursued the plan, and now,
328 "Room for my LORD — VIRTUE, stand by and bow."
329 And is this all — is this the worldlings art,
330 To mask, but not amend a vicious heart?
331 Shall lukewarm caution and demeanour grave,
332 For wise and good stamp ev'ry supple knave?
333 Shall wretches whom no real virtue warms,
334 Gild fair their names and states with empty forms,
335 Whilst VIRTUE seeks in vain the wish'd-for prize,
336 Because, disdaining ill, she hates disguise;
337 Because she frankly pours forth all her store,
338 Seems what she is, and scorns to pass for more?
339 Well — be it so — let vile dissemblers hold
340 Unenvy'd pow'r, and boast their dear-bought gold,
341 Me neither pow'r shall tempt, nor thirst of pelf,
342 To flatter others, or deny myself,
343 Might the whole world be plac'd within my span,
344 I would not be that THING, that PRUDENT MAN.
345 WHAT, cries Sir PLIANT, would you then oppose
346 Yourself, alone, against an host of foes?
347 Let not conceit, and peevish lust to rail,
348 Above all sense of interest prevail.
349 Throw off for shame this petulance of wit,
350 Be wise, be modest, and for once submit:
351 Too hard the task 'gainst multitudes to fight,
352 You must be wrong, the WORLD is in the right.
353 WHAT is this WORLD? a term which men have got
354 To signify, not one in ten knows what;
355 A term, which with no more precision passes
356 To point out herds of men than herds of asses;
357 In common use no more it means we find,
358 Than many fools in same opinions join'd.
359 CAN numbers then change Nature's stated laws?
360 Can numbers make the worse the better cause?
361 Vice must be vice, virtue be virtue still,
362 Tho' thousands rail at good and practise ill.
363 Wouldst thou defend the Gaul's destructive rage
364 Because vast nations on his part engage?
365 Tho' to support the rebel CAESAR's cause
366 Tumultuous legions arm against the laws,
367 Tho' Scandal would OUR PATRIOT's name impeach,
368 And rails at virtues which she cannot reach,[Page 17]
369 What honest man but would with joy submit
370 To bleed with CATO, and retire with PITT?
371 STEDFAST and true to virtue's sacred laws,
372 Unmov'd by vulgar censure or applause,
373 Let the WORLD talk, my Friend; that WORLD we know
374 Which calls us guilty, cannot make us so.
375 Unaw'd by numbers, follow Nature's plan,
376 Assert the rights, or quit the name of man.
377 Consider well, weigh strictly right and wrong;
378 Resolve not quick, but once resolv'd be strong.
379 In spite of Dullness, and in spite of Wit,
380 If to thyself thou canst thyself acquit,
381 Rather stand up assur'd with conscious pride
382 Alone, than err with millions on thy side.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): NIGHT.
Author: Charles Churchill
Genres: heroic couplet; satire; epistle
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.