1 WHAT, sir, a month, and not one line afford?
2 'Tis well: — how finely some folk keep their word!
3 I own my promise. — But to steal an hour,
4 'Midst all this hurry — 'tis not in my pow'r,
5 Where life each day does one fix'd order keep,
6 Successive journies, weariness and sleep.
7 Or if our scheme some interval allows,
8 Some hours design'd for thought and for repose;
9 Soon as the scatter'd images begin
10 In the mind to rally — company comes in:[Page 62]
11 Reason, adieu! there's no more room to think;
12 For all the day behind is noise and drink.
13 Thus life rolls on, but not without regret;
14 Whene'er at morning, in some cool retreat,
15 I walk alone: — 'tis then in thought I view
16 Some sage of old; 'tis then I think of you:
17 Whose breast no tyrant passions ever seize,
18 No pulse that riots, blood that disobeys;
19 Who follow but where judgment points the way,
20 And whom too busy sense ne'er led astray.
21 Not that you joys with moderation shun,
22 You taste all pleasures, but indulge in none.
23 Fir'd by this image, I resolve anew:
24 'Tis reason calls, and peace and joy's in view.
25 How bless'd a change! a long adieu to sense:
26 O shield me, sapience! virtue's reign commence!
27 Alas, how short a reign? — the walk is o'er,
28 The dinner waits, and friends some half a score:
29 At first to virtue firm, the glass I fly;
30 'Till some sly sot, — "Not drink the family!"
31 Thus gratitude is made to plead for sin;
32 My trait'rous breast a party forms within:
33 And inclination brib'd, we never want
34 Excuse — "'Tis hot, and walking makes one faint."
35 Now sense gets strength; my bright resolves decay,
36 Like stars that melt at the approach of day:
37 Thought dies, and ev'n, at last, your image fades away.[Page 63]
38 My head grows warm; all reason I despise:
39 "To-day be happy, and to-morrow wise!"
40 Betray'd so oft, I'm half persuaded now,
41 Surely to fail, the first step is to vow.
42 The country lately, 'twas my wish: oh there!
43 Gardens, diversions, friends, relations, air:
44 For London now, dear London, how I burn!
45 I must be happy, sure, when I return.
46 Whoever hopes true happiness to see,
47 Hopes for what never was, nor e'er will be:
48 The nearest ease, since we must suffer still,
49 Are they, who dare be patient under ill.
50 Whilom a fool saw where a fiddle lay;
51 And after pouring round it, strove to play:
52 Above, below, across, all ways he tries;
53 He tries in vain, 'tis discord all and noise:
54 Fretting he threw it by: then thus the lout;
55 "There's musick in it, could I fetch it out."
56 If life does not its harmony impart,
57 We want not instruments, but have not art.
58 'Tis endless to defer our hopes of ease,
59 Till crosses end, and disappointments cease.
60 The sage is happy, not that all goes right,
61 His cattle feel no rot, his corn no blight;
62 The mind for ease is fitted to the wise,
63 Not so the fool's; — 'tis here the difference lies:
64 Their prospect is the same, but various are their eyes.