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The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy impute all their success to prudence and merit.
Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices: so, climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping.
Censure is the tax a man payeth to the public for being eminent. No wise man ever wished to be younger.
An idle reason lessens the weight of the good ones you gave before. Complaint is the largest tribute heaven receives, and the sincerest part of our devotion.
To be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride. Vain men delight in telling what honors have been done them, what great company they have kept, and the like; by which they plainly confess that these honors were more than their due, and such as their friends would not believe if they had not been told: whereas a man truly proud thinks the greatest honors below his merit, and consequently scorns to boast. I therefore deliver it as a maxim, that whoever de. sires the character of a proud man, ought to conceal his vanity.
MATTHEW PRIOR. 1664-1721. (Manual, p. 282.)
As the Chameleon who is known
To have no colors of his own;
But borrows from his neighbor's hue
His white or black, his green or blue;
And struts as much in ready light,
Which credit gives him upon sight,
As if the rainbow were in tail
Settled on him and his heirs male;
So the young 'squire, when first he comes
From country school to Will's or Tom's,
And equally, in truth, is fit
To be a statesman, or a wit;
Without one notion of his own,
He saunters wildly up and down,
Till some acquaintance, good or bad,
Takes notice of a staring lad,
Admits him in among the gang;
They jest, reply, dispute, harangue :
He acts and talks, as they befriend him,
Smeared with the colors which they lend him,
Thus, merely as his fortune chances,
His merit or his vice advances.
If haply he the sect pursues,
That read and comment upon news;
He takes up their mysterious face;
He drinks his coffee without lace;
This week his mimic tongue runs o'er
What they have said the week before;
His wisdom sets all Europe right,
And teaches Marlborough when to fight.
Or if it be his fate to meet
With folks who have more wealth than wit;
He loves cheap port, and double bub;
And settles in the Hum-drum club:
He learns how stocks will fall or rise;
Holds poverty the greatest vice;
Thinks wit the bane of conversation,
And says that learning spoils a nation.
But if, at first, he minds his hits,
And drinks champaign among the wits;
Five deep he toasts the towering lasses;
Repeats you verses wrote on glasses;
Is in the chair; prescribes the law;
And lies with those he never saw.
JOHN GAY. 1688-1732. (Manual, p. 283 )
178. THE Hare and manY FRIENDS.
Friendship, like love, is but a name,
Unless to one you stint the flame.
The child whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care.
'Tis thus in friendships; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
A Hare who, in a civil way,
Complied with everything, like Gay,
Was known to all the bestial train
Who hunt the wood, or graze the plain;
Her care was never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
As forth she went at early clawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouthed thunder flies.
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath;
She hears the near approach of death:
She doubles to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy ground;
Till, fainting, in the public way,
Half dead with fear, she gasping lay.
What transport in her bosom grew,
When first the horse appeared in view!
"Let me," says she, "your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend.
You know my feet betray my flight;
To friendship every burden's light."
The horse replied, "Poor honest Puss,
It grieves my heart to see you thus:
Be comforted, relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear."
She next the stately bull implored;
And thus replied the mighty lord;
"Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend.
Love calls me hence; a favorite cow
Expects me near yon barley-mow;
And, where a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus would seem unkind:
But see, the goat is just behind."
The goat remarked her pulse was high, Her languid head, her heavy eye:
"My back," says she, "may do you harm:
The sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.”
The sheep was feeble, and complained,
"His sides a load of wool sustained;"
Said he was slow, confessed his fears,
"For hounds eat sheep as well as hares."
She now the trotting calf addressed,
To save from death a friend distressed:
"Shall I," says he, "of tender age,
In this important case engage?
Older and abler passed you by;
How strong are those! how weak am I!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence,
Excuse me, then; you know my heart;
But dearest friends, alas! must part.
How shall we all lament! adieu;
For see, the hounds are just in view.”
THOMAS PARNELL. 1679--1718. (Manual, p. 285.)
179. HYMN TO CONTENTMENT.
Lovely, lasting peace of mind!
Sweet delight of human kind!
Heavenly born, and bred on high,
To crown the favorites of the sky
With more of happiness below,
Than victors in a triumph know!
Whither, O whither art thou fled,
To lay thy meek contented head;
What happy region dost thou please
To make the seat of calms and ease!
Ambition searches all its sphere
Of pomp and state, to meet thee there.
Increasing avarice would find
Thy presence in its gold enshrined.
The bold adventurer ploughs his way
Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
To gain thy love; and then perceives
Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
The silent heart, which grief assails,
Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales,
Sees daisies open, rivers run,
And seeks (as I have vainly done)
Amusing thought; but learns to know
That solitude's the nurse of woe.
No real happiness is found
In trailing purple o'er the ground:
Or in a soul exalted high,
To range the circuit of the sky,
Converse with stars above, and know
All nature in its forms below;
The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
And doubts at last, for knowledge, rise.
Lovely, lasting peace, appear;
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden blest,
And man contains it in his breast.
'Twas thus, as under shade I stood,
I sung my wishes to the wood,
And, lost in thought, no more perceived
The branches whisper as they waved:
It seemed as all the quiet place
Confessed the presence of his grace.
When thus she spoke - Go rule thy will,
Bid thy wild passions all be still,
Know God- and bring thy heart to know
The joys which from religion flow:
Then every grace shall prove its guest,
And I'll be there to crown the rest.
Oh! by yonder mossy seat,
In my hours of sweet retreat,
Might I thus my soul employ,
With sense of gratitude and joy:
Raised as ancient prophets were,
In heavenly vision, praise, and prayer;
Pleasing all men, hurting none,
Pleased and blessed with God alone:
Then while the gardens take my sight,
With all the colors of delight;
While silver waters glide along,
To please my ear, and court my song:
I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
And thee, great source of nature, sing.
The sun that walks his airy way,
To light the world, and give the day;
The moon that shines with borrowed light:
The stars that gild the gloomy night;
The seas that roll unnumbered waves;
The wood that spreads its shady leaves;
The field whose ears conceal the grain,
The yellow treasure of the plain;
All of these, and all I see,
Should be sung, and sung by me:
They speak their Maker as they can,
But want and ask the tongue of man.
Go search among your idle dreams,
Your busy or your vain extremes;
And find a life of equal bliss,
Or own the next begun in this.
EDWARD YOUNG. 1681-1765. (Manual, p. 295.)
FROM THE "NIGHT THOUGHTS."
Be wise to-day: 'tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals till all are fled.
And to the mercies of a moment lerves