61 You counsel well to bid me arm my mind.
62 Wou'd the receipt were easy, as 'tis kind;
63 But hard it is for misery to reach
64 That fortitude prosperity can teach.
65 Cou'd I forbid what has been to have been,
66 Or lodge a doubt on truths myself have seen;
67 Cou'd I divest remembrance of her store,
68 And say, collect these images no more;
69 Cou'd I dislodge sensation from my breast,
70 And charm her wakeful faculties to rest;
71 Cou'd I my nature and myself subdue,
72 I might the method you prescribe pursue.[Page 150]
73 But if unfeign'd afflictions we endure,
74 If reason's our disease, and not our cure,
75 Then seeming ease is all we can obtain;
76 As one, who long familiariz'd to pain,
77 Still feels the smart, but ceases to complain.
78 Tho' young in life, yet long inur'd to care,
79 Thus I submissive every evil bear:
80 If unexpected ills alone are hard,
81 Mine shou'd be light, who am for all prepar'd:
82 No disappointments can my peace annoy,
83 Disuse has wean'd me from all hopes of joy:
84 The vain pursuit for ever I give o'er,
85 Repuls'd I strive, betray'd I trust no more:
86 Mankind I know, their nature, and their art,
87 Their vice their own, their virtue but a part;
88 Ill play'd so oft, that all the cheat can tell,
89 And dang'rous only where 'tis acted well.
90 In different classes rang'd, a different name
91 Attends their practice, but the heart's the same.
92 Their hate is interest, interest too their love,
93 On the same springs these different engines move:
94 That sharpens malice, and directs her sting,
95 And thence the honey'd streams of flattery spring.
96 Long I suspected what at last I know:
97 I thought men worthless, now I've prov'd 'em so;
98 Reluctant prov'd it, by too sure a rule,
99 I learn'd my science in a painful school.[Page 151]
100 He buys e'en wisdom at too dear a price,
101 Who pays my sad experience to be wise.
102 Why did I hope, by sanguine views possess'd,
103 That Virtue harbour'd in a human breast?
104 Why did I trust to Flattery's specious wile,
105 The April sunshine of her transient smile?
106 Why disbelieve the lessons of the wise,
107 That taught me young to pierce her thin disguise?
108 I thought their rancour, not their prudence, spoke,
109 That age perverse in false invectives broke;
110 I thought their comments on this gaudy scene
111 The effects of phlegm, and dictated by spleen;
112 That jealous of the joys themselves were past,
113 Their envy try'd to pall their children's taste:
114 Like the deaf adder to the charmer's tongue,
115 I gave no credit to the truths they sung;
116 But, happy in a visionary scheme,
117 Still sought companions worthy my esteem:
118 The tongue, the heart's interpreter I deem'd,
119 And judg'd of what men were by what they seem'd;
120 I thought each warm professor meant me fair,
121 Each supple sycophant a friend sincere.
122 The solemn hypocrite, whose close design
123 Mirth never interrupts, nor love, nor wine,
124 Who talks on any secret but his own,
125 Collecting all, communicating none;
126 Who still attentive to what others say,
127 Observes to wound, or questions to betray;[Page 152]
128 Of him as guardian of my private thought,
129 In morning counsels cool resolves I sought;
130 To him still open, cautiously consign'd
131 The inmost treasures of my secret mind;
132 My joys, and griefs delighted to impart,
133 In sacred confidence unmix'd with art;
134 That dangerous pleasure of the honest heart!
135 Whene'er I purpos'd to unbend my soul
136 In social banquets, where the circling bowl
137 To gladness lifts all sorrows but despair,
138 And gives a transient Lethe to our care;
139 I chose the men whose talents entertain
140 And season converse with a lively strain;
141 Who thoughtless still, by hope, nor fear perplex'd,
142 Enjoy the present hour, and risque the next.
143 These not the luxury of slothful ease,
144 Soft downy beds, nor balmy slumbers please;
145 While wakeful kings on purple couches own
146 The secret sorrows of their envy'd crown,
147 And wait revolving light, with shorter rest
148 Than e'en those wretches by their power opprest:
149 This jocund train, devoted to delight,
150 In chearful vigils still protract the night,
151 Nor dread the cares approaching with the day;
152 Thro' each vicissitude for ever gay.
153 With such I commun'd, pleas'd that I cou'd find
154 Recess so grateful to the active mind:[Page 153]
155 And while the youths in sprightly contest try,
156 With humorous tale, or apposite reply,
157 Or amorous song, or inoffensive jest,
158 (The test of wit) to glad the lengthen'd feast;
159 My soul, said I, depend upon their truth,
160 For fraud inhabits not the breast of youth;
161 Indulge thy genius here, be free, be safe,
162 Mirth is their aim, they covet but to laugh;
163 Pure from deceit, as ignorant of care,
164 Their friendship, and their joys are both sincere.
165 I judg'd their nature, like their humour good;
166 As if the soul depended on the blood;
167 And that the seeds of honesty must grow
168 Wherever health resides, or spirits flow.
169 I see my error: but I see too late:
170 'Tis vain inspection to look back on Fate. —
171 What are the men who most esteem'd we find,
172 But such whose vices are the most refin'd?
173 Blind preference! for vice like poison shews,
174 The surest death is in the subtlest dose. —
175 To such reflections when I turn my mind,
176 I loath my being, and abhor mankind.
177 What joy for truth, what commerce for the just,
178 If all our safety's founded on distrust;
179 If all our wisdom is a mean deceit,
180 And he who prospers but the ablest cheat!