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YE deep philosophers, who can
Explain that various creature, Man,
Say, is there any point so nice
As that of off'ring an advice?
To bid your friend his errors mend,
Is almost certain to offend :
Tho' you in softest terms advise,
Confess him good, admit him wise,
In vain you sweeten the discourse,
He thinks you call him fool, or worse.
You paint his character, and try
If he will own it, and apply;
Without a name reprove and warn ;
Here none are hurt, and all may learn;
This too must fail; the picture shown,
No man will take it for his own.
In moral lectures treat the case,
Say this is honest, that is base;
In conversation none will bear it;
And for the pupil, few come near' it.
And is there then no other way
A moral lesson to convey?
Must all that shall attempt to teach,
Admonish, satirize, or preach?
Yes, there is one, an antient art,
By sages found to reach the heart,
Ere science, with distinctions nice,
Had fix'd what virtue is, and vice.
Inventing all the various names
On which the moralist declaims:
They would by simple tales advise,
Which took the hearer by surprise;
Alarm'd his conscience, unprepar'd,
Ere pride had put it on its guard;
And made him from himself receive
The lessons which they meant to give.
That this device will oft prevail,
And gain its end when others fail,
If any shall pretend to doubt,
The tale which follows makes it out.
There was a little stubborn dame,
Whom no authority could tame;
Restive, by long indulgence, grown,
No will she minded but her own:
At trifles oft she'd scold and fret,
Then in a corner take a scat,
And, sourly moping all the day,
Disdain alike to work or play.
Papa all softer arts had tried,
And sharper remedies applied;
But both were vain; for ev'ry course
He took, still made her worse and worse.
Tis strange to think how female wit
So oft should make a lucky hit;
When man, with all his high pretence
To deeper judgement, sounder sense,
Will err, and measures false pursue -
'Tis very strange, I own, but true, —
Mamma observ'd the rising lass
By stealth retiring to the glass,
To practise little airs unseen,
In the true genius of thirteen:
On this a deep design she laid
To tame the humor of the Maid;
Contriving, like a prudent mother,
To make one folly cure another.
Upon the wall, against the seat
Which Jessy us'd for her retreat,
Whene'er by accident offended,
A looking-glass was straight suspended,
That it might show her how deform'd
She look'd, and frightful, when she storm'd
And warn her, as she priz'd her beauty,
To bend her humor to her duty.
All this the looking-glass achiev'd;
Its threats were minded and believ'd.
The Maid, who spurn'd at all advice,
Grew tame and gentle in a trice:
So, when all other means had fail'd,
The silent monitor prevail'd.
Thus, Fable to the human kind
Presents an image of the mind;
It is a mirror, where we spy
At large our own deformity;
And learn of course those faults to mend,
Which but to mention would offend.
Descend to instances, and try; An ox will scarce attempt to fly, Or leave his pasture in the wood, With fishes to explore the flood. Man only acts, of ev'ry creature, In opposition to his nature. The happiness of human kind Consists in rectitude of mind; A will subdu'd to reason's sway, And passions practis'd to obey; An open and a gen'rous heart, Refin'd from selfishuess and art ;' Patience, which mocks at fortune's pow'r, And wisdom never sad nor sour: In these consists our proper bliss; Else Plato reasons much amiss:
But foolish mortals still pursue
False happiness in place of true;
Ambition serves us for a guide,
Or lust, or avarice, or pride;
While Reason no assent can gain,
And Revelation warns in vain.
Hence through our lives, in ev'ry stage,
From infancy itself to age,
A happiness we toil to find,
Which still avoids' us like the wind;
Ev'n when we think the prize our own,
At once 'tis vanish'd, lost and gone.
You'll ask me why I thus rehearse
All Epictetus in my verse?
And if I fondly hope to please,
With dry reflections, such as these,
So trite, so hackney'd, and so stale ?
I'll take the hint, and tell a tale.
One evening, as a simple swain
His flock attended on the plain,
The shining bow he chanc'd to spy,
Which warns us when a show'r is nigh.
With brightest rays it seem'd to glow:
Its distance eighty yards or so.
This bumpkin had, it seems, been told
The story of the cup of gold,
Which fame reports is to be found
Just where the Rainbow meets the ground;
Ile therefore felt a sudden itch
To seise the goblet, and be rich;
Hoping, yet hopes are oft but vain,
No more to toil thro' wind and rain,
But sit indulging by the fire,
Midst ease and plenty, like a 'squire.
He mark'd the very spot of land
On which the Rainbow seem'd to stand,
And, stepping forwards at his leisure,
Expected to have found the treasure.
But as he mov'd, the color'd ray
Still chang'd its place, and slipp'd away,
As seeming his approach to shun.
From walking he began to run;
But all in vain, it still withdrew
As nimbly as he could pursue.
At last, through many a bog and lake,
Rough craggy road, and thorny brake,
It led the easy fool, till night
Approach'd, then vanish'd in his sight,
And left him to compute his gains,
With nought but labor for his pains.
At which our trav'ller, as he sat,
By intervals began to chat. ---
"Tis odd, quoth he, to think what strains
Of folly governs some folks' brains:
What makes you choose this wild abode?
You ll say, "Tis to converse with God.
Alas, I fear, 'tis all a whini;
You never saw or spoke with him.
They talk of Providence's pow'r,
And say, it rules us ev'ry hour:
To me all nature seems confusion,
And such weak fancies mere delusion.
Say, if it rul'd and govern'd right,
Could there be such a thing as night;
Which, when the sun has left the skies,
Puts all things in a deep disguise?
If them a trav'ller chance to stray,
The least step from the public way,
He's soon in endless mazes lost,
As I have found it to my cost.
Besides, the gloom which nature wears
Assists imaginary fears,
Of ghosts and goblins from the waves
Of sulph'rous lakes and yawning graves;
sprung from supersitious seed,
Like other maxims of the creed.
For my part, I reject the tales
Which faith suggests when reason fails;
And reason nothing understands,
Unwarranted by eyes and hands.
These subtle essences, like wind,
Which some have dreamt of, and call mind,
It ne'er admits; nor joins the lie,
Which says men rot, but never die.
It holds all future things in doubt,
And therefore wisely leaves them out ;
Suggesting what is worth our care,
To take things present as they are,
Our wisest course: the rest is folly,
The fruit of spleen and melancholy.
Sir, quoth the Hermit, I agree
That Reason still our guide should be,
And will admit her as the test
Of what is true, and what is best;
But Reason sure would blush for shame
At what you mention in her name;
Her dictates are sublime and holy;
Impiety 's the child of Folly ;
Reason with measur'd steps and slow,
To things above to things below
Ascends, and guides us thro' her sphere
With caution, vigilance, and care,
Faith in the utmost frontier stands,
And Reason puts us in her hands;
But not till her commission giv'n
Is found authentic, and from Heav'n.
'Tis strange that man, a reas'ning creature,
Should miss a God, in viewing nature;
Whose high perfections are display'd
In ev'ry thing his hands have made:
Ev'n when we think their traces lost,
When found again, we see them most
The night itself, which you would blame
As something wrong in nature's frame,
Is but a curtain to invest
Her weary children when at rest:
Like that which mothers draw to keep
The light off from a child asleep.
Besides, the fears which darkness breeds
(At least augments) in vulgar heads,
Are far from useless, when the mind
Is narrow, and to earth confin'd;
They make the worldling think with pain
On frauds, and oaths, and ill-got gain;
Force from the ruffian's hand the knife
Just rais'd against his neighbour's life;
And in defence of virtue's cause,
Assist each sanction of the laws.
But souls serene, where wisdom dwells,
And superstitious dread expels,
The silent majesty of night
Excites to take a nobler flight;
With saints and angels to explore
The wonders of creating pow'r ;
And lifts on contemplation's wings
Above the sphere of mortal things.
Walk forth, and tread those dewy plains
Where night in awful silence reigns;
The sky's serene, the air is still,
The woods stand listening on each hill,
To catch the sounds that sink and swell,
Wide-floating from the ev'ning bell,
While foxes howl, and beetles hum,
Sounds which make silence still more dumb:
And try if folly, rash and rude,
Dare on the sacred hour intrude.
Then turn your eyes to heav'n's broad frame,
Attempt to quote those lights by name
Which shine so thick, and spread so far;
Conceive a sun in ev'ry star,
Round which unnumber'd planets roll,
While comets shoot athwart the whole;
From system still to system ranging,
Their various benefits exchanging,
And shaking from their flaming hair
The things most needed ev'ry where.
Explore this glorious scene, and say
That night discovers less than day;
That 'tis quite useless, and a sign
That chance disposes, not design:
Whoe'er maintains it, I'll pronounce
Him either mad, or else a dunce;
For reason, tho' 'tis far from strong,
Will soon find out that nothing's wrong,
From signs and evidences clear
Of wise contrivance ev'ry where.
The Hermit ended, and the youth
Became a convert to the truth;
At least he yielded, and confess'd
That all was order'd for the best.
Would often boast his matchless skill
To curb the steed, and guide the wheel;
And as he pass'd the gazing throng
With graceful ease, and smack'd the thong,
The idiot wonder they express'd
Was praise and transport to his breast,
At length, quite vain, he needs would show
His master what his art could do;
And bade his slaves the chariot lead
To Academus' sacred shade.
The trembling grove confess'd its fright,
The wood-nymphs started at the sight;
The Muses drop the learned lyre,
And to their inmost shades retire.
Howe'er the youth, with forward air,
Bows to the sage, and mounts the car;
The lash resounds, the coursers spring,
The chariot marks the rolling ring;
And gathering crowds, with eager eyes,
And shouts, pursue him as he flies.
Triumphant to the goal return'd,
With nobler thirst his bosom burn'd;
And now along th' indented plain
The self-same track he marks again;
Pursues with care the nice design,
Nor ever deviates from the line.
Amazement seis'd the circling crowd;
The youths with emulation glow'd;
Ev'n bearded sages hail'd the boy,
And all but Plato gaz'd with joy.
For he, deep-judging sage, beheld
With pain the triumphs of the field:
And when the charioteer drew nigh,
And, flush'd with hope, had caught his eye,
Alas! unhappy youth, he cried,
Expect no praise from me (and sigh'd.)
With indignation I survey
Such skill and judgement thrown away.
The time profusely squander'd there
On vulgar arts, beneath thy care,
If well employ'd, at less expence,
Had taught thee honor, virtue, sense,
And rais'd thee from a coachinan's fate
To govern men, and guide the state.
§300. The Bee, the Ant, and the Sparrow.
Addressed to Phabe and Kitty C. at Boarding-
My dears, 'tis said, in days of old
That beasts could talk, and birds could scold:
But now, it seems, the human race
Alone engross the speaker's place.
Yet lately, if report be true,
(And much the tale relates to you)
There met à Sparrow, Ant, and Bee,
Which reason'd and convers'd as we.
Who reads my page will doubtless grant
That Phe's the wise industrious Ant;
And all with half an eye may see
That Kitty is the busy Bee.
Here then are two-but where's the third ? Go search the school, you'll find the bird.
Your school! I ask your pardon, Fair;
I'm sure you'll find no Sparrow there.
Now to my tale One summer's morn
A Bee rang'd o'er the verdant lawn;
Studious to husband ev'ry hour,
And make the most of ev'ry flow'r.
Nimble from stalk to stalk she flies,
And loads with yellow wax her thighs;
With which the artist builds her comb,
And keeps all tight and warm at home:
Or from the cowslip's golden bells
Sucks honey, to enrich her cells:
Cr ev'ry tempting rose pursues,
Or sips the lily's fragrant dews;
Yet never robs the shining bloom
Or of its beauty or perfume.
Thus she discharg'd in ev'ry way
The various duties of the day.
It chanc'd a frugal Ant was near,
Whose brow was wrinkled o'er by care;
A great economist was she,
Nor less laborious than the Bee;
By pensive parents often taught
What ills arise from want of thought;
That poverty on sloth depends;
On poverty the loss of friends;
Hence ev'ry day the Ant is found
With anxious steps to tread the ground;
With curious search to trace the grain,
And drag the heavy load with pain.
The active Bee with pleasure saw
The Ant fulfil her parent's law.
Ah! sister laborer, says she,
How very fortunate are we!
Who, taught in infancy to know
The comforts which from labor flow,
Are independent of the great,
Nor know the wants of pride and state.
Why is our food so very sweet?
Because we earn before we eat.
Why are our wants so very few?
Because we nature's calls pursue.
Whence our complacency of mind?
Because we act our parts assign'd.
Have we incessant tasks to do?
Is not all nature busy too?
Doth not the sun, with constant pace,
Persist to run his annual race?
Do not the stars, which shine so bright,
Renew their courses ev'ry night?
Doth not the ox obedient bow
His patient neck, and draw the plough?
Or when did e'er the gen'rous steed
Withhold his labor or his speed?
If you all nature's system scan,
The only idle thing is man.
A wanton Sparrow long'd to hear
Their sage discourse, and straight drew noar.
The bird was talkative and loud,
And very pert and very proud;
As worthless and as vain a thing,
Perhaps, as ever wore a wing.
She found, as on a spray she sat,
The little friends were deep in chat;
That virtue was their fav'rite theme,
And toil and probity their scheme:
Such talk was hateful to her breast;
She thought them arrant prudes at best.
When to display her naughty mind,
Hunger with cruelty combin'd,
She view'd the Ant with savage eyes,
And hopp'd and hopp'd to snatch the prize.
The Bee, who watch'd her op'ning bill,
And guess'd her fell design to kill,
Ask'd her from what her anger rose,
And why she treated Ants as foes?
The Sparrow her reply began,
And thus the conversation ran:
Whenever I'm dispos'd to dine,
I think the whole creation mine;
That I'm a bird of high degree,
And ev'ry insect made for me.
Hence oft I search the emmet-brood
(For emmets are delicious food),
And oft, in wantonness and play,
I slay ten thousand in a day.
For truth it is, without disguise,
That I love mischief as my eyes.
Oh! fie! the honest Bee replied,
I fear you make base men your guide;
Of ev'ry creature sure the worst,
Though in creation's scale the first!
Ungrateful man! 'tis strange he thrives,
Who burns the Bees to rob their hives!
I hate his vile administration,
And so do all the emmet nation.
What fatal foes to birds are men,
Quite to the Eagle from the Wren!
Oh! do not men's example take,
Who mischief do for mischief's sake;
But spare the Ant-her worth demands
Esteem and friendship at your hands.
A mind with ev'ry virtue blest,
Must raise compassion in your breast.
Virtue! rejoin'd the sneering bird, Where did you learn that Gothic word? Since I was hatch'd, I never heard That virtue was at all rever'd. But say it was the antients' claim, Yet moderns disavow the naine; Unless, my dear, you read romances, I cannot reconcile your fancies. Virtue in fairy tales is seen To play the goddess or the queen; But what's a queen without the pow`r, Or beauty, child, without a dow'rt Yet this is all that virtue brags, At best 'tis only worth in rags. Such whims my very heart derides: Indeed you make me burst my sides Trust me, Miss Bee-to speak the truth, I've copied men from earliest youth; The same our taste, the same our school, Passion and appetite our rule; And call me.bird, or call me sinner, I'll ne'er forego my sport or dinner. A prowling cat the miscreant spies, And wide expands her amber eyes:
Near and more near Grimalkind draws;
She wags her tail, protends her paws;
Then, springing on her thoughtless prey,
She bore the vicious bird away.
Thus in her cruelty and pride,
The wicked wanton sparrow died.
§301. The Bears and Bees. Merrick.
As two young bears in wanton mood,
Forth issuing from a neighb'ring wood,
Came where th' industrious Bees had stor'd
In artful cells their luscious hoard;
O'erjoy'd they seis'd with eager haste
Luxurious on the rich repast.
Alarm'd at this the little crew
About their ears vindictive flew.
The beasts, unable to sustain
Th' unequal combat, quit the plain;
Half blind with rage, and mad with pain,
Their native shelter they regain;
There sit, and now, discreeter grown,
Too late their rashness they bemoan;
And this by dear experience gain,
That pleasure's ever bought with pain:
So when the gilded baits of vice
Are plac'd before our longing eyes,
With greedy haste we snatch our fill,
And swallow down the latent ill;
But when experience opes our eyes,
Away the fancied pleasure flies:
It flies, but oh! too late we find
It leaves a real sting behind.
§302. The Camelion. Merrick.
OFT has it been my lot to mark
A proud conceited talking spark,
With eyes, that hardly serv'd at most
To guard their master 'gainst a post;
Yet round the world the blade has been,
To see whatever could be seen :
Returning from his finish'd tour,
Grown ten times perter than before;
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travell'd fool your mouth will stop:
"Sir, if my judgement you'll allow -
"I've seen and sure I ought to know".
So beg you'd pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.
Two travellers of such a cast,
As o'er Arabia's wilds they pass'd,
And on their way in friendly chat
Now talk'd of this, and then of that,
Discours'd a while, 'mongst other matter,
Of the camelion's form and nature.
"A stranger animal," cries one,
"Sure never liv'd beneath the sun;
"A lizard's body, lean and long,
"A fish's head, a serpent's tongue;
"Its foot with triple claw disjoin'd;
"And what a length of tail behind!
"How slow its pace! and then its hue
"Who ever saw so fine a blue?"
Hold there, the other quick replics,
Tis green, I saw it with these eyes,
As late with open mouth it lay, And warm'd it in the sunny ray 3 Stretch'd at its case the beast I view'd, And saw it eat the air for food!' "I've seen it, Sir, as well as you, "And must again affirm it blue. "At leisure I the beast survey'd, "Extended in the cooling shade."
"Tis green, 'us green, Sir, I assure ye.'. "Green!" cries the other in a fury. Why, Sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?" 'Twere no great loss,' the friend replies, For, if they always serve you thus, You'll find them but of little use.' So high at last the contest rose, From words they almost came to blows: When luckily came by a thirdTo him the question they referr'd; And begg'd he'd tell them, if he knew, Whether the thing was green or blue.
"Sirs,” cries the umpire, cease your pother, "The creature's neither one nor t'other: "I caught the animal last night, "And view'd it o'er by candle light: "I mark'd it well—'twas black as jet "You stare-but, Sirs, I've got it yet, "And can produce it."—" Pray, Sir, do: I'll lay my life, the thing is blue. "And I'll be sworn that when you've seen "The reptile, you'll pronounce him green." Well then, at once, to case the doubt,' Replies the man, I'll turn him out: And when before your eyes I've set him, If you don't find him black, I'll eat him.' He said; then full before their sight Produc'd the beast, and lo- 'twas white. Both star'd; the man look'd wond'rous wise. My children," the Camelion cries (Then first the creature found a tongue), "You all are right, and all are wrong: "When next you talk of what you view, "Think others see as well as you: "Nor wonder, if you find that none "Prefers your eye-sight to his own."
§ 303. The Monkeys. A Tale. Merrick. WHOE'ER, with curious eye, has rang'd 'Thro' Ovid's tales, has seen
How Jove, incens'd, to Monkeys chang'd
A tribe of worthless men.
Repentant soon, th' offending race
Entreat the injur'd pow'r
To give them back the human face,
And reason's aid restore.
Jove, sooth'd at length, his ear inclin'd,
And granted half their pray'r;
But t' other half he bade the wind
Disperse in empty air.
Scarce had the thund'rer giv'n the nod
That shook the vaulted skies,
With haughtier air the creatures strode,
And stretch'd their dwindled size.