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Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Dost break and time th' unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace, Making it move, well-manag‘d by thy art,
With swiftness and with grace. Thou the faint beams of reason's scatter'd light
Dost, like a burning.glass, unite;
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
And noble fires beget.
Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks, I see
The monster London laugh at me;
I should at thee too, foolish city!
If it were fit to laugh at misery ;
But thy estate I pity.
Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
Even thou, who dost thy millions boast, A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.
FREEDOM with Virtue takes her seat;
Her proper place, her only scene,
Is in the golden mean,
She lives not with the poor nor with the great.
The wings of those Necessity has clipt,
And they 're in Fortune's bridewell whipt
To the laborious task of bread;
These are by various tyrants captive led.
Now wild Ambition with imperious force
Rides, reins, and spurs, them, like th' unruly horse;
And servile Avarice yokes them now,
Like toilsome oxen, to the plough;
And sometimes Lust, like the misguided light, Draws them through all the labyrinths of night. If any few among the great there be
From these insulting passions free,
Yet we ev'n those, too, fetter'd see
By custom, business, crowds, and formal decency.
And, wheresoe'er they stay, and wheresoe'er they go,
Impertinencies round them flow:
These are the small uneasy things
Which about greatness still are found,
And rather it molest than wound:
Like gnats, which too much heat of summer brings;
But cares do swarm there, too, and those have
stings: As, when the honey does too open lie,
A thousand wasps about it fly: Nor will the master even to share admit; The master stands aloof, and dares not taste of it. 'T is morning: well; I fain would yet sleep on :
You cannot now; you must be gone
To court, or to the noisy hall:
Besides, the rooms without are crowded all;
The stream of business does begin,
And a spring-tide of clients is come in.
Ah cruel guards, which this poor prisoner keep!
Will they not suffer him to sleep?
Make an escape; out at the postern flee,
And get some blessed hours of liberty :
With a few friends, and a few dishes, dine,
And much of mirth and moderate wine.
To thy bent mind some relaxation give,
And steal one day out of thy life to live.
Oh happy man (he cries) to whom kind Heaven
Has such a freedom always given ! Why, mighty madman, what should hinder thee
From being every day as free? In all the freeborn nations of the air, Never did bird a spirit so mean and sordid bear,
As to exchange his native liberty
Of soaring boldly up into the sky,
His liberty to sing, to perch, or fly,
When and wherever he thought good,
And all his innocent pleasures of the wood,
For a more plentiful or constant food.
Nor ever did ambitious rage
Make him into a painted cage,
Or the false forest of a well-hung room,
For honour and preferment, come.
Now, blessings on you all, ye heroick race,
Who keep your primitive powers and rights so well,
Though men and angels fell !
Of all material lives the highest place
To you is justly given;
And ways and walks the nearest heaven.
Whilst wretched we, yet vain and proud, think fit
To boast, that we look up to it.
Ev'n to the universal tyrant, Love,
You homage pay but once a-year:
None so degenerous and unbirdly prove,
As his perpetual yoke to bear;
None, but a few unhappy household fowl,
Whom human lordship does control;
Who from their birth corrupted were
By bondage, and by man's example here.
He's no small prince, who, every day
Thus to himself can say :
Now will I sleep, now eat, now sit, now walk,
Now meditate alone, now with acquaintance talk;
This I will do, here I will stay,
Or, if my fancy call me away,
My man and I will presently go ride
(For we, before, have nothing to provide,
Nor, after, are to render an account)
To Dover, Berwick, or the Cornish mount.
If thou but a short journey take,
As if thy last thou wert to make,
Business must be dispatch'd, ere thou canst part,
Nor canst thou stir, unless there be
A hundred horse and men to wait on thee,
And many a mule, and many a cart;
What an unwieldy man thou art!
The Rhodian Colussus so
A journey, too, might go.
Where honour, or where conscience does not bind,
No other law shall shackle me;
Slave to myself I will not be,
Nor shall my future actions be confin'd
By my own present mind.
Who by resolves and vows engag'd does stand
For days that yet belong to fate,
Does, like an unthrift, mortgage his estate
Before it falls into his hand :
The bondman of the cloister so,
All that he does receive, does always owe;
And still as time comes in, it goes away
Not to enjoy, but debts to pay.
Unhappy slave, and pupil to a bell,
Which his hours work, as well as hours, does tell!
Unhappy, till the last, tlie kind releasing knell.
If life should a well-order'd poem be
(In which he only hits the white Who joins true profit with the best delight), The more heroick strain let others take,
Mine the Pindarick way I'll make; The matter shall be grave, the mumbers loose and
It shall not keep one settled pace of time,
In the same tune it shall not always chime,
Nor shall each day just to his neighbour rhyme ;
A thousand liberties it shall dispense,
And yet shall manage all without offence
Or to the sweetness of the sound or greatness of
the sense ;
Nor shall it never from one subject start,
Nor seek transitions to depart,
Nor its set way o'er stiles and bridges make,
Nor thorough lanes a compass take, As if it fear'd some trespass to commit,
When the wide air's a road for it. So the imperial eagle does not stay
Till the whole carcase he devour,
That's fallen into its power:
As if his generous hunger understood
That he can never want plenty of food,
He only sucks the tasteful blood;
And to fresh game flies cheerfully away;
To kites, and meaner birds, he leaves the mangled
ACME AND SEPTIMIUS.
WHILST on Septimius' panting breast
(Meaning nothing less than rest)
Acme lean'd her loving head,
Thus the pleas'd Septimius said :
My dearest Acme, if I be
Once alive, and love not thee
With a passion far above
All that e'er was called love;
In a Libyan desert may
I become some lion's prey;
Let him, Acme, let him tear
My breast, when Acme is not there.
The God of Love, who stood to hear him
(The God of Love was always near him),
Pleas'd and tickled with the sound,
Sneez'd aloud; and all around
The little Loves, that waited by,
Bow'd, and blest the augury.
Acme, enflam'd with what he said,
Rear'd her gently-bending head;