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Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd Sofá, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb’d by folly, and appriz'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence; or at least confine
Remarks that gall so many to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust conceald
Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the faule
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise that has surviv'd the fall ! Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or, tasting, long enjoy thee ; too infirm, Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup. Thou are the nurse of virtue --in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heav'n-born, and deftin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is ador'd,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wand'ring eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle frail support ;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change, .
And finding, in the calm of truth-tried love,
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forfaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets ; and senates seem
Conven’d for purposes of empire less
Than to release th' adultress from her bond.
Th’adultrefs ! what a theme for angry verse !
Whát provocation to th’ indignánt heart
That feels for injur'd love ! but I disdain
The nauseous talk to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandon’d, glorying in her shame!
No:-let her pass, and, chariotted along
In guilty fplendour, shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white !
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now, of character unsmirch'd,
And chaste themselves, are not alham'd to own.
Virtue and vice had bound'ries in old time,
Not to be pass’d: and she, that had renounc'd
Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself
By all that priz’d it ; not for prud'ry's fake, ;
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard, perhaps, on here and there a waif,
Desirous to return, and not receiv'd;
But was an wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught th’unblemish'd to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men, too, were nice in honour in those days,
And judg'd offenders well. Then he that sharp'd,
And pocketted a prize by fraud obtain’d,
Was mark'd and shunn'd as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she requir’d
His ev'ry nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid, with the blood that he had bafely spar'd,
The price of his default. But now,yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,
So lib'ral in construction, and so rich
In-Christian charity, (good-natur'd age !)
That they are safe, finners of either sex,
Tranfgress what laws they may. Well dress’d, well bred,
Well equipag’d, is ticket good enough
To pass, us readily through ev'ry door.
Hypocrisy, deteft her as we may,
(And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet)
May claim this merit still that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause ;
But she has burnt her mask; not needed here;
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have lost their use.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt,
My panting side was charg’d, when I withdrew :
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself. ..
Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars. ..
With gentle force soliciting the clarts,
He drew them forth, and heald, and bade me live.
Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene ;
With few associates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I see that all are wand'rers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions ; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still woo'd
And never won. Dream after dream ensues ;
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed. Rings the world