An Epistle to the Hon. Miss LOVELACE.
1 Whence these impetuous movements of the breast?
2 Why beat our hearts, unknowing where to rest?
3 Must we still long untasted joys to taste,
4 Pant for the future, yet regret the past?
5 Can reason, can a stoic's pride control
6 This unremitting sickness of the soul?
7 Reason! what's that, when lawless Passion rules?
8 The jest of sense, and jargon of the schools.
9 Some few perhaps have by its lore been taught
10 To think, and wish, just only what they ought:
11 Sufficient to themselves, their wants are such,
12 They neither ask amiss, nor wish too much.
13 Here freedom dwells, and revels unconfin'd,
14 With plenty, ease, and indolence of mind;
15 True greatness, wisdom, virtue, hence must rise;
16 And here that home-felt joy, Contentment, lies. [Page 27]
17 O Thou! for whom my fancy prunes her wing,
18 For whom I love to tune the trembling string,
19 What would we more than wisdom, virtue, ease?
20 Tell, if you can, for you're content with these.
21 Why reason some, and some why passion rules,
22 Is because some are wife, and some are fools;
23 Their reason and their passion still at strife,
24 Like some meek pair in wedlock yok'd for life:
25 In the same int'rest, tugging diff'rent ways,
26 What one commands, the other disobeys.
27 Blest state! where this alone is fixt and sure,
28 To disagree, while sun and moon endure.
29 Hence listless, weary, sick, chagrin'd at home,
30 In search of happiness abroad we roam:
31 And yet the wisest of us all have own'd,
32 If 'twas not there, 'twas no where to be found.
33 There ev'n the poor may taste felicity,
34 If with contentment any such there be.
35 "Monstrous! (cries Fulvia) 'twou'd a stoic vex!
36 For what's content without a coach and six?" —[Page 28]
37 So humble, Fulvia! so deserving too!
38 Pity such worth should unregarded go —
39 Down on your knees again, and beg of fate,
40 Instead of six, to give your chariot eight.
41 Elvira's passion was a china jar;
42 The brute, her lord, contemns such brittle ware.
43 No matter. — See! the glitt'ring columns rise,
44 Pile above pile, and emulate the skies.
45 Fresh cargoes come, fresh longings these create;
46 And what is twenty pieces for a plate?
47 Debates ensue; he brandishes his cane,
48 Down go the pyramids of Porcellane.
49 She faints, she falls, and in a sigh profound,
50 Yeilds her high soul, and levels with the ground.
51 "Cruel! farewel! — (were the last words she spoke)
52 For what is life, now all my China's broke!"
53 Few can the stings of Disappointment bear!
54 One sends a curse to Heav'n, and one a pray'r;
55 The pious motive's much the same in both,
56 In him that swears, and him that fears an oath. [Page 29]
57 The servent curse, and penitential pray'r,
58 Proceed alike from anguish, pride, despair.
59 Hence sober Catius lifts his hands and eyes,
60 And mad Corvino curses God, and dies.
61 "What joy, (cries Cotta in his calm retreat)
62 Had I but such an office in the state!
63 That post exactly suits my active mind,
64 And sure my genius was for courts design'd."
65 Thou hast it, friend, — for 'tis in Fancy's pow'r;
66 Learn to be thankful, and teaze Heav'n no more.
67 See! how kind Fancy gen'rously supplies
68 What a whole thankless land thy worth denies.
69 See! how she paints the lovely flatt'ring scene,
70 With all the pleasure, and wihout the pain.
71 Make much of Fancy's favours, and believe
72 You'll hardly match the pleasures she can give.
73 Of injur'd merit some aloud complain;
74 "My cruel angel!" — cries the love-sick swain.
75 Her marble heart at length to love inclin'd,
76 His cruel angel grows perversely kind. [Page 30]
77 What would he more? — One wish remains to make,
78 That Heav'n, in pity, would his angel take.
79 Oft on events most men miscalculate,
80 Then call misfortune, what indeed was fate.
81 We see a little, and presume the rest,
82 And that is always right which pleases best.
83 Why supple Courtine miss'd of such a post,
84 Was not his want of conduct, or of cost,
85 For he brib'd high; five hundred pieces gave;
86 But ah! hard fate! his patron scorns a knave.
87 "O for a husband, handsome and well-bred!"
88 (Was the last pray'r the chaste Dyctinna made.)
89 Kind Heav'n at length her soft petition heeds,
90 But one wish gain'd, a multitude succeeds —
91 She wants an heir, she wants a house in town,
92 She wants a title, or she wants a gown.
93 Poor Cornus! make thy will, bequeath, and give;
94 For if her wants continue, who would live? [Page 31]
95 Sure to be wishing still, is still to grieve;
96 And proves the man or poor, or much a slave.
97 Will none the wretched crawling thing regard,
98 Who stoops so very low, and begs so hard?
99 You call this meanness, and the wretch despise;
100 Alas! he stoops to soar, and sinks to rise:
101 Now on the knee, now on the wing is found,
102 As insects spring with vigour from the ground.
103 Bless me! the Doctor! — what brings him to court?
104 It is not want; for lo! his comely port.
105 The lion's lack, and hunger feel, I grant;
106 But they who serve the Lord can nothing want.
107 Why stands he here then, elbow'd to and fro?
108 Has he no care of souls? No work to do?
109 Go home, good doctor, preach and pray, and give;
110 By far more blessed this, than to receive. —
111 Alas! the doctor's meek, and much resign'd;
112 But all his tenants pay their tithes in kind:
113 So that of debts, repairs, and taxes clear,
114 He hardly saves — two hundred pounds a year. [Page 32]
115 Then let him soar, 'tis on devotion's wing;
116 Who asks a bishopric, asks no bad thing:
117 A coach does much an holy life adorn;
118 Then muzzle not the ox who treads the corn.
119 "Enough of these. Now tell us, if you can,
120 Is there that thing on earth, a happy man? "
121 Well then, the wondrous man I happy call,
122 Has but few wishes, and enjoys them all.
123 Blest in his fame, and in his fortune blest,
124 No craving void lies aching in his breast.
125 His passions cool, his expectations low,
126 Can he feel want, or disappointment know?
127 Yet if success be to his virtues giv'n,
128 Can relish that, and leave the rest to Heav'n.
129 What, tho' for ever with our selves at strife,
130 None wishes to lay down his load of life.
131 The wretch who threescore suns has seen roll o'er,
132 His lungs with lacerating ulcers sore,
133 Sollicits Heav'n to add the other score. [Page 33]
134 To day, indeed, his portion's pain and sorrow;
135 But joy and ease are hoarded for tomorrow.
136 Soft smiling Hope! thou anchor of the mind!
137 The only resting-place the wretched find;
138 How dost thou all our anxious cares beguile!
139 And make the orphan, and the friendless smile.
140 All fly to thee, thou gentle dawn of peace!
141 The coward's fortitude, the brave's success,
142 The lover's ease, the captive's liberty,
143 The only flatt'rer of the poor and me.
144 With thee, on pleasure's wings, thro' life we're born,
145 Without thee, wretched, friendless, and forlorn.
146 Possest of thee, the weary pilgrim strays
147 Thro' barren desarts, and untrodden ways:
148 Thirsty and faint, his nerves new vigour strings,
149 And full of thee he quaffs immortal springs.
150 The martyr'd saint, whom anguish and the rod
151 Have prov'd, thro' thee walks worthy of his God.
152 In vain are axes, flames, and tort'ring wheels;
153 He feels no torment, who no terrour feels:[Page 34]
154 Thro' thee his well-try'd spirit upward springs,
155 And spurns at titles, scepters, thrones, and kings.
156 O full of thee! in quiet may I live,
157 The few remaining moments Heav'n shall give!
158 Come then, thou honest flatt'rer, to my breast!
159 Friend of my health, and author of my rest!
160 Thro' thee, the future cloudless all appears,
161 A short, but smiling train of happy years.
162 Pass but this instant, storms and tempests cease,
163 And all beyond's the promis'd land of peace.
164 No passion's mists, by no false joys misled,
165 No ties forgot, no duties left unpaid,
166 No lays unfinish'd, and no aching head.
167 Born with a temper much inclin'd to ease,
168 Whatever gives me that, is sure to please.
169 I ask not riches; yet alike would fly
170 The friendless state of want and penury.
171 This wish howe'er be mine: to live unknown,
172 In some serene retreat, my time my own,
173 To all obliging, yet a slave to none. [Page 35]
174 Content, my riches; silence be my fame;
175 My pleasures, ease; my honours, your esteem.
176 And you, blest maid! who all you want possess,
177 Already to your self your happiness,
178 This modest wish methinks you now let fall,
179 "O give me Wisdom, Heav'n! and I have all."