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With all our art and toil improv'd to pain!
Too happy they! but wealth brought luxury,
And luxury on sloth begot disease.
Learn temperance, friends; and hear without disdain
The choice of water. Thus the Coan sage*
Opin'd, and thus the learn'd of ev'ry school.
What least of foreign principles partakes
Is best: the lightest then; what bears the touch
Of fire the least, and soonest mounts in air;
The most insipid; the most void of smell.
Such the rude mountain from his horrid sides
Pours down; such waters in the sandy vale
For ever boil, alike of winter frosts
And summer's heat secure. The crystal stream,
Through rocks resounding, or for many a mile
O'er the chaf'd pebbles hurl'd, yields wholesome, pure,
And mellow draughts; except when winter thaws,
And half the mountains melt into the tide.
Though thirst were e'er so resolute, avoid
The sordid lake, and all such drowsy floods
As fill from Lethe Belgia's slow canals;
(With rest corrupt, with vegetation green;
Squalid with generation, and the birth
Of little monsters;) till the power of fire
Has from profane embraces disengag'd
The violated lymph. The virgin stream
In boiling wastes its finer soul in air.
Nothing like simple element dilutes
The food, or gives the chyle so soon to flow.
But where the stomach, indolent and cold,
Toys with its duty, animate with wine
Th' insipid stream: though golden Ceres yields
A more voluptuous, a more sprightly draught;
Perhaps more active. Wine unmix'd, and all
The gluey floods that from the vex'd abyss
Of fermentation spring; with spirit fraught,
And furious with intoxicating fire;
Retard concoction, and preserve unthaw'd
Say how, unseason'd to the midnight frays
Of Comus and his rout, wilt thou contend
With Centaurs long to hardy deeds inur'd?
Then learn to revel; but by slow degrees:
By slow degrees the liberal arts are won;
And Hercules grew strong. But when you smooth
The brows of care, indulge your festive vein
In cups by well-inform'd experience found
The least your bane; and only with your friends.
There are sweet follies; frailties to be seen
By friends alone, and men of generous minds.
Oh! seldom may the fated hours return
Of drinking deep! I would not daily taste,
Except when life declines, even sober cups.
Weak withering age no rigid law forbids,
With frugal nectar, smooth and slow with balm,
The sapless habit daily to bedew,
And gives the hesitating wheels of life
Gliblier to play. But youth has better joys:
And is it wise, when youth with pleasure flows,
To squander the reliefs of age and pain?
What dextrous thousands just within the goal
Of wild debauch direct their nightly course!
Perhaps no sickly qualms bedim their days,
No morning admonitions shock the head.
But, ah! what woes remain! life rolls apace,
And that incurable disease, old age,
In youthful bodies more severely felt,
More sternly active, shakes their blasted prime;
Except kind Nature by some hasty blow
Prevent the lingering fates. For know, whate'er
Beyond its natural fervor hurries on
The sanguine tide; whether the frequent bowl,
High-season'd fare, or exercise to toil
Protracted; spurs to its last stage tired life,
And sows the temples with untimely snow.
When life is new, the ductile fibres feel
The heart's increasing force; and, day by day
Th' embodied mass. You see what countless years, The growth advances: till the larger tubes
Embalm'd in fiery quintessence of wine,
The puny wonders of the reptile world,
The tender rudiments of life, the slim
Unravellings of minute anatomy,
Maintain their texture, and unchang'd remain.
We curse not wine: the vile excess we blame;
More fruitful than th' accumulated board,
Of pain and misery. For the subtle draught
Faster and surer swells the vital tide;
And with more active poison than the floods
Of grosser crudity convey, pervades
The far remote meanders of our frame.
Ah! sly deceiver! branded o'er and o'er,
Yet still believ'd! exulting o'er the wreck
Of sober vows!-But the Parnassian maids
Another time, perhaps, shall sing the joys,t
The fatal charms, the many woes of wine;
Perhaps its various tribes and various powers.
Meantime, I would not always dread the bowl,
Nor every trespass shun. The feverish strife,
Rous'd by the rare debauch, subdues, expels
The loitering crudities that burden life;
And, like a torrent full and rapid, clears
Th' obstructed tubes. Besides, this restless world
Is full of chances, which, by habit's power,
To learn to bear is easier than to shun.
Ah! when ambition, meagre love of gold,
Or sacred country calls, with mellowing wine
To moisten well the thirsty suffrages;
Acquiring (from their elemental veins*
Condens'd to solid chords) a firmer tone,
Sustain, and just sustain, th' impetuous blood.
Here stops the growth. With overbearing pulse
And pressure, still the great destroy the small;
Still with the ruins of the small grow strong.
Life glows meantime, amid the grinding force
Of viscous fluids and elastic tubes;
Its various functions vigorously are plied
By strong machinery; and in solid health
The man confirm'd long triumphs o'er disease.
But the full ocean ebbs: there is a point,
By Nature fix'd, when life must downward tend.
For still the beating tide consolidates
The stubborn vessels, more reluctant still
To the weak throbs of th' ill-supported heart.
This languishing, these strength'ning by degrees
* In the human body, as well as in those of other animals, the larger blood-vessels are composed of smaller ones; which, by the violent motion and pressure of the fluids in the large vessels, lose their cavities by degrees, and degenerate into impervious chords or fibres. In pro. portion as these small vessels become solid, the larger must of course become less extensile, more rigid, and make a stronger resistance to the action of the heart, and force of the blood. From this gradual condensation of the smaller vessels, and consequent rigidity of the larger ones, the progress of the human body from infancy to old age is accounted for,
To hard unyielding unelastic bone,
Through tedious channels the congealing flood
Crawls lazily, and hardly wanders on;
It loiters still; and now it stirs no more.
This is the period few attain; the death
Of Nature; thus (so Heav'n ordain'd it) life
Destroys itself; and could these laws have chang'd,
Nestor might now the fates of Troy relate;
And Homer live immortal as his song.
What does not fade? the tower that long had stood
The crush of thunder and the warring winds,
Shook by the slow, but sure destroyer, Time,
Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base.
And flinty pyramids, and walls of brass,
Descend the Babylonian spires are sunk;
Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down.
Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones,
And tottering empires crush by their own weight.
This huge rotundity we tread grows old;
And all those worlds that roll around the Sun,
The Sun himself, shall die; and ancient Night
Again involve the desolate abyss:
Such the reward of rude and sober life;
Of labor such. By health the peasant's toil
Is well repaid; if exercise were pain
Indeed, and temperance pain. By arts like these
Laconia nurs'd of old her hardy sons;
And Rome's unconquer'd legions urg'd their way
Unhurt, through every toil, in every clime.
Toil, and be strong. By toil the flaccid nerves
Grow firm, and gain a more compacted tone;
The greener juices are by toil subdu'd,
Mellow'd and subtiliz'd; the vapid old
Expell'd, and all the rancor of the blood.
Come, my companions, ye who feel the charms
Of Nature and the year; come, let us stray
Where chance or fancy leads our roving walk.
Come, while the soft voluptuous breezes fan
The fleecy Heavens, euwrap the limbs in balm,
And shed a charming languor o'er the soul.
Nor when bright Winter sows with prickly frost
The vigorous ether, in unmanly warmth
Indulge at home; nor even when Eurus' blasts
This way and that convolve the lab'ring woods.
Or fogs relent, no season should confine
'Till the great FATHER through the lifeless gloom My liberal walks, save when the skies in rain Extend his arm to light another world, And bid new planets roll by other laws.
For through the regions of unbounded space,
Where unconfin'd Omnipotence has room,
Being, in various systems, fluctuates still
Between creation and abhorr'd decay:
It ever did, perhaps, and ever will.
New worlds are still emerging from the deep;
The old descending, in their turns to rise.
Or to the cloister'd gallery or arcade.
Go, climb the mountain; from th' ethereal source
Imbibe the recent gale. The cheerful morn
Beams o'er the hills; go, mount th' exulting steed.
Already, see, the deep-mouth'd beagles cacth
The tainted mazes; and, on eager sport
Intent, with emulous impatience try
Each doubtful trace. Or, if a nobler prey
Delight you more, go chase the desperate deer;
And through its deepest solitudes awake
The vocal forest with the jovial horn.
But if the breathless chase o'er hill and dale
Exceed your strength, a sport of less fatigue,
Not less delightful, the prolific stream
THROUGH Various toils th' adventurous Muse has Affords. The crystal rivulet, that o'er
But half the toil, and more than half, remains.
Rude is her theme, and hardly fit for song;
Plain, and of little ornament; and I
But little practis'd in th' Aonian arts.
Yet not in vain such labors have we tried,
If aught these lays the fickle health confirm.
To you, ye delicate, I write; for you
I tame my youth to philosophic cares,
And grow still paler by the midnight lamps.
Not to debilitate with timorous rules
A hardy frame; nor needlessly to brave
Inglorious dangers, proud of mortal strength,
Is all the lesson that in wholesome years
Concerns the strong. His care were ill bestow'd
Who would with warm effeminacy nurse
The thriving oak which on the mountain's brow
Bears all the blasts that sweep the wint'ry Heaven.
Behold the laborer of the glebe, who toils
In dust, in rain, in cold and sultry skies!
Save but the grain from mildews and the flood,
Nought anxious he what sickly stars ascend.
He knows no laws by Esculapius given;
He studies none. Yet him nor midnight fogs
Infest, nor those envenom'd shafts that fly
When rabid Sirius fires th' autumnal noon.
His habit pure with plain and temperate meals,
Robust with labor, and by custom steel'd
To every casualty of varied life;
Serene he bears the peevish eastern blast,
And uninfected breathes the mortal south.
A stony channel rolls its rapid maze,
Swarms with the silver fry. Such, through the bounds
Of pastoral Stafford, runs the brawling Trent;
Such Eden, sprung from Cumbrian mountains; such
The Esk, o'erhung with woods; and such the
On whose Arcadian banks I first drew air,
Liddel; till now, except in Doric lays
Tun'd to her murmurs by her love-sick swains,
Unknown in song; though not a purer stream,
Through meads more flowery, more romantic groves,
Rolls toward the western main. Hail, sacred flood!
May still thy hospitable swains be blest
In rural innocence; thy mountains still
Teem with the fleecy race; thy tuneful woods
For ever flourish; and thy vales look gay
With painted meadows, and the golden grain!
Oft, with thy blooming sons, when life was new,
Sportive and petulant, and charm'd with toys,
In thy transparent eddies have I lav'd:
Oft trac'd with patient steps thy fairy banks,
With the well-imitated fly to hook
The eager trout, and with the slender line
And yielding rod solicit to the shore
The struggling panting prey: while vernal clouds
And tepid gales obscur'd the ruffled pool,
And from the deeps call'd forth the wanton swarms
Form'd on the Samian school, or those of Ind,
There are who think these pastimes scarce humane
Yet in my mind (and not relentless I)
His life is pure that wears no fouler stains.
But if through genuine tenderness of heart,
Or secret want of relish for the game,
You shun the glories of the chase, nor care
To haunt the peopled stream; the garden yields
A soft amusement, an humane delight.
To raise th' insipid nature of the ground;
Or tame its savage genius to the grace
Of careless sweet rusticity, that seems
The amiable result of happy chance,
Is to create; and gives a godlike joy,
Which every year improves. Nor thou disdain
To check the lawless riot of the trees,
To plant the grove, or turn the barren mould.
O happy he! whom, when his years decline,
(His fortune and his fame by worthy means
Attain'd, and equal to his moderate mind;
His life approv'd by all the wise and good,
Even envied by the vain,) the peaceful groves
Of Epicurus, from this stormy world,
Receive to rest; of all ungrateful cares
Absolv'd, and sacred from the selfish crowd.
Happiest of men! if the same soil invites
A chosen few, companions of his youth,
Once fellow-rakes perhaps, now rural friends;
With whom in easy commerce to pursue
Nature's free charms, and vie for sylvan fame :
A fair ambition; void of strife or guile,
Or jealousy, or pain to be outdone.
Who plans th' enchanted garden, who directs
The vista best, and best conducts the stream:
Whose groves the fastest thicken and ascend;
Whom first the welcome Spring salutes; who shows
The earliest bloom, the sweetest proudest charms
Of Flora; who best gives Pomona's juice
To match the sprightly genius of champaign.
Thrice-happy days! in rural business past:
Blest winter nights! when, as the genial fire
Cheers the wide hall, his cordial family
With soft domestic arts the hours beguile,
And pleasing talk that starts no timorous fame,
With witless wantonness to hunt it down:
Or through the fairy-land of tale or song
Delighted wander, in fictitious fates
Engag'd, and all that strikes humanity:
Till lost in fable, they the stealing hour
Of timely rest forget. Sometimes, at eve
His neighbors lift the latch, and bless unbid
His festal roof; while, o'er the light repast,
And sprightly cups, they mix in social joy;
And, through the maze of conversation, trace
Whate'er amuses or improves the mind.
Sometimes at eve (for I delight to taste
The native zest and flavor of the fruit,
Where sense grows wild, and tastes of no manure)
The decent, honest, cheerful husbandman
Should drown his labor in my friendly bowl;
And at my table find himself at home.
Whate'er you study, in whate'er you sweat,
Indulge your taste. Some love the manly foils;
The tennis some; and some the graceful dance.
Others, more hardy, range the purple heath,
Or naked stubble; where, from field to field,
The sounding coveys urge their laboring flight;
Eager amid the rising cloud to pour
The gun's unerring thunder: and there are
Whom still the meed* of the green archer charms.
He chooses best, whose labor entertains
This word is much used by some of the old English poets, and significs reward or prize.
His vacant fancy most: the toil you hate
Fatigues you soon, and scarce improves your limbs
As beauty still has blemish, and the mind
The most accomplish'd its imperfect side,
Few bodies are there of that happy mould
But some one part is weaker than the rest:
The legs, perhaps, or arms refuse their load,
Or the chest labors. These assiduously;
But gently, in their proper arts employ'd,
Acquire a vigor and springy activity,
To which they were not born.
Abhor fatigue and violent discipline.
Begin with gentle toils; and as your nerves
Grow firm, to hardier by just steps aspire;
The prudent, even in every moderate walk,
At first but saunter, and by slow degrees
Increase their pace. This doctrine of the wise
Well knows the master of the flying steed.
First from the goal the manag'd coursers play
On bended reins; as yet the skilful youth
Repress their foamy pride; but every breath
The race grows warmer, and the tempest swells,
Till all the fiery mettle has its way,
And the thick thunder hurries o'er the plain.
When all at once from indolence to toil
You spring, the fibres by the hasty shock
Are tir'd and crack'd, before their unctuous coats,
Compress'd, can pour the lubricating balm.
Besides, collected in the passive veins,
The purple mass a sudden torrent rolls,
O'erpowers the heart, and deluges the lungs
With dangerous inundation; oft the source
Of fatal woes; a cough that foams with blood,
Asthma, and feller peripneumonyt,
Or the slow minings of the hectic fire.
Th' athletic fool, to whom what Heaven denied
Of soul is well compensated in limbs,
Oft from his rage, or brainless frolic, feels
His vegetation and brute force decay.
The men of better clay and finer mould
Know nature, feel the human dignity,
And scorn to vie with oxen or with apes.
Pursu'd prolixly, even the gentlest toil
Is waste of health: repose by small fatigue
Is earn'd, and (where your habit is not prone
To thaw) by the first moisture of the brows.
The fine and subtle spirits cost too much
To be profus'd, too much the roscid balm.
But when the hard varieties of life
You toil to learn, or try the dusty chase,
Or the warm deeds of some important day:
Hot from the field, indulge not yet your limbs
In wish'd repose; nor court the fanning gale,
Nor taste the spring. O! by the sacred tears
Of widows, orphans, mothers, sisters, sires,
Forbear! no other pestilence has driven
Such myriads o'er th' irremeable deep.
Why this so fatal, the sagacious Muse
Through nature's cunning labyrinths could trace:
But there are secrets which who knows not now,
Must, ere he reach them, climb the heapy Alps
Of science; and devote seven years to toil.
Besides, I would not stun your patient ears
With what it little boots you to attain.
He knows enough, the mariner, who knows
Where lurk the shelves, and where the whirlpools
He leaves to scan, from what mysterious cause
Charybdis rages in th' Ionian wave;
Whence those impetuous currents in the main
Which neither oar nor sail can stem; and why
The roughening deep expects the storm, as sure
As red Orion mounts the shrouded Heaven.
In ancient times, when Rome with Athens vied
For polish'd luxury and useful arts;
All hot and reeking from th' Olympic strife,
And warm Palestra, in the tepid bath
Th' athletic youth relax'd their weary limbs.
Soft oils bedew'd them, with the grateful pow'rs
Of nard and cassia fraught, to soothe and heal
The cherish'd nerves. Our less voluptuous clime
Not much invites us to such arts as these.
"Tis not for those, whom gelid skies embrace,
And chilling fogs; whose perspiration feels
Such frequent bars from Eurus and the North;
"Tis not for those to cultivate a skin
Too soft: or teach the recremental fume
Too fast to crowd through such precarious ways.
For through the small arterial mouths, that pierce
In endless millions the close-woven skin,
The baser fluids in a constant stream
Escape, and viewless melt into the winds.
While this eternal, this most copious waste
Of blood, degenerates into vapid brine,
Maintains its wonted measure, all the powers
Of health befriend you, all the wheels of life
With ease and pleasure move: but this restrain'd
Or more or less, so more or less you feel
The functions labor: from this fatal source
What woes descend is never to be sung.
To take their numbers, were to count the sands
That ride in whirlwind the parch'd Libyan air;
Or waves that, when the blustering North embroils
The Baltic, thunder on the German shore.
Subject not then, by soft emollient arts,
This grand expense, on which your fates depend,
To every caprice of the sky; nor thwart
The genius of your clime: for from the blood
Least fickle rise the recremental steams,
And least obnoxious to the styptic air,
He not the safe vicissitudes of life
Without some shock endures; ill-fitted he
To want the known, or bear unusual things.
Besides, the powerful remedies of pain
(Since pain in spite of all our care will come)
Should never with your prosperous days of health
Grow too familiar: for by frequent use
The strongest medicines lose their healing power,
And even the surest poisons theirs to kill.
Let those who from the frozen Arctos reach
Parch'd Mauritania, or the sultry west,
Or the wide flood that laves rich Indostan,
Plunge thrice a day, and in the tepid wave
Untwist their stubborn pores; that full and free
Th' evaporation through the soften'd skin
May bear proportion to the swelling blood.
So may they 'scape the fever's rapid flames;
So feel untainted the hot breath of Hell.
With us, the man of no complaint demands
The warm ablution just enough to clear
The sluices of the skin, enough to keep
The body sacred from indecent soil.
Still to be pure, ev'n did it not conduce
(As much it does) to health, were greatly worth
Your daily pains. 'Tis this adorns the rich;
The want of this is poverty's worst woe;
With this external virtue, age maintains
A decent grace; without it, youth and charms
Are lothesome. This the venal graces know;
So doubtless do your wives: for married sires,
As well as lovers, still pretend to taste;
Nor is it less (all prudent wives can tell)
To lose a husband's than a lover's heart.
But now the hours and seasons when to toil
From foreign themes recall my wandering song
Some labor fasting, or but slightly fed
To lull the grinding stomach's hungry rage.
Where nature feeds too corpulent a frame,
'Tis wisely done for while the thirsty veins,
Impatient of lean penury, devour
The treasur'd oil, then is the happiest time
To shake the lazy balsam from its cells.
Now while the stomach from the full repast
Which breathe through straiter and more callous Subsides, but ere returning hunger gnaws,
The temper'd Scythian hence, half-naked treads
His boundless snows, nor rues th' inclement Heaven;
And hence our painted ancestors defied
The east; nor curs'd, like us, their fickle sky.
The body, moulded by the clime, endures
The equator heats or hyperborean frost:
Except by habits foreign to its turn,
Unwise you counteract its forming pow'r.
Rude at the first, the winter shocks
By long acquaintance: study then your sky,
Form to its manners your obsequious frame,
And learn to suffer what you cannot shun.
Against the rigors of a damp cold heav'n
To fortify their bodies, some frequent
The gelid cistern; and, where nought forbids,
I praise their dauntless heart: a frame so steel'd
Dreads not the cough, nor those ungenial blasts
That breathe the tertian or fell rheumatism;
The nerves so temper'd never quit their tone,
No chronic languors haunt such hardy breasts.
But all things have their bounds; and he who
By daily use the kindest regimen
Essential to his health, should never mix
With human kind, nor art nor trade pursue.
Ye leaner habits, give an hour to toil;
And ye whom no luxuriancy of growth
Oppresses yet, or threatens to oppress.
But from the recent meal no labors please,
Of limbs or mind. For now the cordial powers
Claim all the wandering spirits to a work
Of strong and subtle toil, and great event:
A work of time; and you may rue the day
You hurried, with untimely exercise,
A half-concocted chyle into the blood.
The body overcharged with unctuous phlegm
Much toil demands: the lean elastic less.
While winter chills the blood and binds the veins,
No labors are too hard: by those you 'scape
The slow diseases of the torpid year;
Endless to name; to one of which alone,
To that which tears the nerves, the toil of slaves
Is pleasure: Oh! from such inhuman pains
May all be free who merit not the wheel!
But from the burning Lion when the Sun
Pours down his sultry wrath; now while the blood
Too much already maddens in the veins,
And all the finer fluids through the skin
Explore their flight; me, near the cool cascade
Reclin'd, or saunt'ring in the lofty grove,
No needless slight occasion should engage
To pant and sweat beneath the fiery noon.
Now the fresh morn alone and mellow eve
To shady walks and active rural sports
Invite. But, while the chilling dews descend,
May nothing tempt you to the cold embrace
Of humid skies; though 'tis no vulgar joy
To trace the horrors of the solemn wood,
While the soft evening saddens into night:
Though the sweet poet of the vernal groves
Melts all the night in strains of am'rous woe.
The shades descend, and midnight o'er the world
Expands her sable wings. Great Nature droops
Through all her works. Now happy he whose toil
Has o'er his languid powerless limbs diffus'd
A pleasing lassitude: he not in vain
Invokes the gentle deity of dreams.
His powers the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose: on him the balmy dews
Of sleep with double nutriment descend.
But would you sweetly waste the blank of night
In deep oblivion; or on Fancy's wings
Visit the paradise of happy dreams,
And waken cheerful as the lively morn;
Oppress not nature sinking down to rest
With feasts too late, too solid, or too full:
But be the first concoction half-matur'd
Ere you to mighty indolence resign
Your passive faculties. He from the toils
And troubles of the day to heavier toil
Retires, whom trembling from the tower that rocks
Amid the clouds, or Calpe's hideous height,
The busy demons hurl; or in the main
O'erwhelm; or bury struggling under ground.
Not all a monarch's luxury the woes
Can counterpoise of that most wretched man,
Whose nights are shaken with the frantic fits
Of wild Orestes; whose delirious brain,
Stung by the furies, works with poison'd thought;
While pale and monstrous painting shocks the soul;
And mangled consciousness bemoans itself
For ever torn; and chaos floating round.
O shame! O pity! nipt with pale quadrille,
And midnight cares, the bloom of Albion dies!
By toil subdu'd, the warrior and the hind
Sleep fast and deep: their active functions soon
With generous streams the subtle tubes supply;
And soon the tonic irritable nerves
Feel the fresh impulse and awake the soul.
The sons of indolence with long repose
Grow torpid; and, with slowest Lethe drunk,
Feebly and ling'ringly return to life,
Blunt every sense and powerless every limb.
Ye, prone to sleep (whom sleeping most annoys)
On the hard mattress or elastic couch
Extend your limbs, and wean yourselves from sloth
Nor grudge the lean projector, of dry brain
And springy nerves, the blandishments of down:
Nor envy while the buried Bacchanal
Exhales his surfeit in prolixer dreams.
He without riot, in the balmy feast
Of life, the wants of nature has supplied,
Who rises, cool, serene, and full of soul.
But pliant nature more or less demands,
As custom forms her; and all sudden change
She hates of habit, even from bad to good.
If faults in life, or new emergencies,
From habits urge you by long time confirm'd,
Slow may the change arrive, and stage by stage;
Slow as the shadow o'er the dial moves,
Slow as the stealing progress of the year.
Observe the circling year. How unperceiv'd
Her seasons change! Behold! by slow degrees,
Stern Winter tam'd into a ruder Spring;
The ripen'd Spring a milder Summer's glows;
The parting Summer sheds Pomona's store,
And aged Autumn brews the winter storm.
Slow as they come, these changes come not void
Of mortal shocks: the cold and torrid reigns,
The two great periods of the important year,
Are in their first approaches seldom safe;
Funereal Autumn all the sickly dread;
And the black fates deform the lovely Spring.
What dreams presage, what dangers these or those He well advis'd who taught our wiser sires
Portend to sanity, though prudent seers
Reveal'd of old, and men of deathless fame,
We would not to the superstitious mind
Suggest new throbs, new vanities of fear.
"Tis ours to teach you from the peaceful night
To banish omens and all restless woes.
In study some protract the silent hours,
Which others consecrate to mirth and wine;
And sleep till noon, and hardly live till night.
But surely this redeems not from the shades
One hour of life. Nor does it nought avail
What season you to drowsy Morpheus give
Of the ever-varying circle of the day;
Or whether, through the tedious winter gloom,
You tempt the midnight or the morning damps.
The body, fresh and vigorous from repose,
Defies the early fogs: but, by the toils
Of wakeful day exhausted and unstrung,
Weakly resists the night's unwholesome breath.
The grand discharge, th' effusion of the skin,
Slowly impair'd, the languid maladies
Creep on, and through the sick'ning functions steal.
As, when the chilling east invades the Spring,
The delicate narcissus pines away
In hectic languor, and a slow disease
Taints all the family of flowers, condemn'd
To cruel heav'ns. But why, already prone
To fade, should beauty cherish its own bane?
Early to borrow Muscovy's warm spoils,
Ere the first frost has touch'd the tender blade;
And late resign them, though the wanton Spring
Should deck her charms with all her sister's rays
For while the effluence of the skin maintains
Its native measure, the pleuritic Spring
Glides harmless by; and Autumn, sick to death
With sallow quartans, no contagion breathes.
I in prophetic numbers could unfold
The omens of the year: what seasons teem
With what diseases; what the humid South
Prepares, and what the demon of the East:
But you perhaps refuse the tedious song.
Besides, whatever plagues in heat, or cold,
Or drought, or moisture dwell, they hurt not you,
Skill'd to correct the vices of the sky,
And taught already how to each extreme
To bend your life. But should the public bane
Infect you; or some trespass of your own,
Or flaw of nature, hint mortality;
Soon as a not unpleasing horror glides
Along the spine, through all your torpid limbs;
When first the head throbs, or the stomach feels
A sickly load, a weary pain the loins;
Be Celsus call'd: the fates come rushing on;
The rapid fates admit of no delay.
While wilful you, and fatally secure,
Expect to-morrow's more auspicious sun,