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Nor ever silence, rest, or peace is here.
There various news I heard of love and strife,
Above, below, without, within, around,
Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place,
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung, Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, Through thousand vents, impatient, 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, both 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,
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 ?”
“ '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 envied, 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 fallen 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.
FROM CHAUCER, 1
THERE liv'd in Lombardy, as authors write,
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 fortified 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 :
1 The Marchantes Tale.
But depth of judgment most in him appears
his inoffensive hours away,
remains, Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.
But what so pure which envious tongues will
Some wicked wits have libell'd all the fair.