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Thus flying east and west, and north and south,
News travellid with increase from thouth to mouth.
So from a spark, that kindled first by chance,
With gathering force the quickening flames advance;
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And towers and temples sink in foods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
Through thousand vents, inipatient, forth they flow,
And rush in millions on the world below,
Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course,
Their date determines, and prescribes their force:
Some to remain, and some to perish soon;
Or wane and wax alternate like the moon.
Around a thousand winged wonders fly,
Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through
the sky. There, at one passage, oft you might survey A lie and truth contending for the way; And long 'twas doubtful, though so closely pent, Which first should issue through the narrow vent. At last agreed, together out they fly, Inseparable now the truth and lie; The strict companions are for ever join'd, And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear, One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear: • What could thus high thy rash ambition raise? Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise ?"
1 Tis true,' said I,' not void of hopes I came, For who so fond as youthful bards of Fame? But few, alas! the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in others' breath, Th' estate which wits inherit after death! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!) The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call :
She comes unlook'd-for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price
As soothing folly, or exalting vice:
Oh! if the muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then, teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise ;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh. grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
JANUARY AND MAY;
THE MERCHANT'S TALE.
WHERE liv'd in Lombardy, as author's write,
1 In days of old, a wise and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace;
Yet, led astray, by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites :
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood,
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more:
Whether pure holiness inspir'd his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find;
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heavenly powers his constant prayer
Once ere he died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will).
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing :
But depth of judgement most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life,
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unaw'd by precepts human or divine,
Like birds and beasts promiscuously they join:
Nor know to make the present blessing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the past :
But vainly boast the joys they never try'd,
And find divulg'd the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heaven to please ;
And pass his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day:
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments bis joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure which envious tongues will
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impudence they style a wife
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil,
A night invasion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous words regard,
But curse the bones of every living bard.
All other goods by fortune's hand are given,
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven.
Vain fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life :
This blessing lasts (if those who try say true)
As long as heart can wish---and longer too.
Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possess'd,
Alone, and ev’n in Paradise unbless'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes su
And wander'd in the solitary shade:
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserv'd of God.
A wife! ah, gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adversity ?
Would men but follow what the sex advise,
All things would prosper, all the world grow wise,
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's blessing from av elder son:
Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
To the wise conduct of a prudent wife :
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,
Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th' Assyrian foe :
At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
Was sheath'd, and Israel liv'd to bless the Lord.
These weighty motives, January the sage
Maturely ponder'd in his riper age;
And, charm'd with virtuous joys and sober life.
Would try that Christian comfort, call'd a wife.
His friends were summon'd on a point so nice,
To pass their judgement, and to give advice;
But fix'd before, and well resolv'd was he;
(As men that ask advice are wont to be).
« My friends,' he cried (and cast a mournful look
Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke),
• Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend,
And worn with cares, and hastening to my end ;
How I have liv'd, alas ! you know too well,
In worldly follies, which I blush to tell ;
But gracious Heaven has ope'd my eyes at last,
With due regret I view my vices past,
And, as the precept of the church decrees,
Will take a wife, and live in holy ease.
But, since by counsel all things should be done,
And many heads are wiser still than one;
Choose you for me, who best shall be content
When my desire's approv'd by your conseut.
One caution yet is needful to be told, To guide your choice; this wife must not be old: There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said, old fish at table, but young fiesh in bed. My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace Of a stale virgin with a winter face : In that cold season love but treats his guest With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best.