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Flings and resumes, and plunders and bestows,
Caprice divides the blessings and the woes.
Her grace unstable as her tott'ring ball,
Whene'er she smiles the meditates our fall.
When most we trust her, we are cheated most,
In desolating loss we mourn our boast :
Her cruel blast invades our hafty fruit,
And withers all our glory at the root.
What mean those multitudes around her? Why
Such motley attitudes perplex our eye?
Some, in the act of wildest rapture, leap,
In agony fome wring their hands, and weep.
Th' unreas'ning crowd; to passion’s fequel blind,
By passion fir'd and impotent of mind :
Competitors in clamorous, suit to share
The toys she tosses with regardless air;
Trifles, for solid worth by most pursu'd,
Bright-colour'd vapours and fantastic good :
The pageantry of wealth, the blaze of fame,
Titles, an offspring to extend the name,
Huge strength, or beauty which the strong obey,
The victor's laurel, and despotic sway.
These, humour'd in their vows, with lavish praise
The glory of the gracious goddess raise :
Those other, losers in her chance- full game,
Shorn of their all, or frustrate in their aim,
In murmurs of their hard mishap complain,
And curse her partial and malignant reign.
Now, further still in this low sensual ground, Traverse yon flow'ry mount's fequefter'd bound. In the green center of those citron shades, 'Mong gardens, fountains, bow'ry walks, and glades, 140 Voluptuous Sin her pow'rful spells employs, Souls to feduce, feducing the destroys. See! Lewdness, loosely zon'd, her bosom bares, See! Riot her luxurious bowl prepares : There stands Avidity, with ardent eye,
145 There dimpling Adulation smooths her lye. There station'd to what end ?
In watch for
Fortune's infatuate favourites of a day.
These they carefs, they flatter, they entreat
To try the pleasures of their soft retreat,
Life difencumber'd, frolicksom, and free,
All ease. all mirth, and high felicity.
Whome'er by their inveigling arts they win
To tread that magic paradise of Sin,
In airy dance his jocund hours skim round,
Sparkles the bowl, the feftal songs refound :
His blood ferınents, for'd by the wanton glance,
And his loose foul dissolves in am'rous trance.
While circulating joys to joys fucceed,
While new delights the sweet delirium feed ;
160 The prodigal, in raptur'd fancy, roves O'er fairy fields and thro' Elysian groves :
Sees glittring visions in fucceffion rise,
And laughs at Socrates the chaste and wise.
'Till, sober'd by distress, awake, confus'd,
Amaz'd, he knows himself a wretch abus'd;
A fhort illufion his imagin'd feaft,
Himself the game, himself the slaughter'd beaft.
Now, raving for his squander'd wealth in vain,
Slave to those tyrant jilts he drags their chain : 170
Compelld to suffer hard and hungry need,
Compellid to dare each foul and desp'rate deed.
Villain, or knave, he joins the sharping tribe,
Robs altars, or is perjur'd for a bribe :
Stabs for a purse, his country pawns for gold,
175 To every crime of blackest horror fold. Shiftless at length, of all resource bereft, In the dire gripe of Punishment he's left.
Observe this strait-mouth'd cave : th' unwilling light Just fews the dismal deep descent to night.
180 In centry see these haggard crones, whose brows Rude locks o'erhang, a frown their forehead plows: Swarthy and foul their shrivell’d skin behold, And Autt'ring shreds their vile defence from cold. High-brandishing her lash, with ftern regard, 185 Stands Punishment, an ever-waking ward ; While fullen Melancholy mopes behind, Fix'd, with her head upon her knees reclin'd: And, frantic with remorseful fury, there Fierce Anguish Atamps, and rends her shaggy hair, 190
Who that ill-featur'd spectre of a man,
Ship’ring in nakedness, so Spare and wan?
And she, whose eye aghaft with horror ftares,
Whole meagre form a fifter's likeness bears?
Loud Lamentation, wild Despair. All these,
Fell vulturs, the devoted caitiff seize.
Ah dreadful durance! with these fiends to dwell!
What tongue the terrors of his soul can tell ?
Worry'd by these foul fiends, the wretch begins
Sharp penance, wages of remember'd fins:
Then deeper finks, plung'd in the pit of Woes
Worse fuff'rings in worse hell to undergo :
Unless, rare guest, Repentance o'er the gloom
Diffuse her radiance, and repeal his doom.
She comes ! meek-ey'd, array'd in grave attire,
See Right Opinion, join’d with Good Dcfire,
Handmaids of Truth: with those, an adverse pair
( False Wisdora's minions, that deceiving fair)
Attend her folemn step: the furies flee.
Come forth, she calls, come forth to liberty,
Guilt-harrass'd thrall : thy future lot decide,
And, pond'ring well, elect thy future guide.
Momentous option! chusing right he'll find
A sov'reign incd'cine for his ulcer'd mind;
Led to True Wisdom, whose cathartic bowl
Recovers and beatifies the foul.
Misguided else, a counterfeit he'll gain,
Whose art is only to amuse the brain :
From vice to studious folly now he flies,
From bliss still erring, still betray'd by lies.
O heavens! where end the risks we mortals run?
How dreadful this, and yet how hard to shun!
Say, father, what distinctive marks declare
That counterfeit of Wisdom ?
f View her there.
At yonder gate, with decent port, she stands,
Her spotless form that second court commands :
Styl'd Wisdom by the crowd, the thinking few
Know her disguise, the phantom of the true :
Skill'd in all learning, skill'd in ev'ry art
To grace the head, not meliorate the heart.
The fav’d, who meditate their noble flight
From a bad world, to Wisdom's lofty height,
Just touching at this inn, for short repast,
Then speed their journey forward to its last.
This the fole path?
Another path there lies,
The plain man's path, without proud Science wise.
Who they, which traverse this deluder's bound?
A busy scene, all thought or action round.
Her lovers, whom her specious beauty warms,
Who grasp, in vifion, Truth's immortal charms,
Vain of the glory of a false embrace :
Fierce syllogistic tribes, a wrangling race,
& The second court, or the studious life.