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ESSAY on HAPPINESS.

1 NOTHING, dear Madam, nothing is more true,
2 Than a short Maxim much approv'd by you;
3 The Lines are these: "We by Experience know
4 "Within ourselves exists our Bliss or Woe. "
5 Tho' round our Heads the Goods of Fortune roll,
6 Dazzle they may, but cannot chear the Soul.
7 Content, the Fountain of eternal Joy,
8 Can Riches purchase, or can Want destroy?
9 No. Born of Heav'n, its Birth it will maintain,
10 No Slave to Power nor the Prize of Gain:
11 Say, who can buy what never yet was sold?
12 No Wealth can bribe her, nor no Bonds can hold:
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13 Sometimes she deigns to shine in lofty Halls,
14 But found more frequent in a Cottage Walls;
15 Her Flight from thence too often is decreed,
16 Then Poverty is doubly curs'd indeed.
17 Content and Bliss, which differ but in Name,
18 Alike their Natures and their End the same,
19 Fast bound together in eternal Chains.
20 This as the End The other, as the Means,
21 Will ne'er divide. But who enjoys the one,
22 Must find the other ere the setting Sun.
23 Then where? Ah where do these fair Sisters fly?
24 Beneath the northern or the southern Sky.
25 Courts do they love? The Senate or the Town,
26 Or the still Village and the healthful Down.
27 Say, do they like Humilo's humble Vest,
28 Or the gay Diamonds on Belinda's Breast.
29 To none of these, alas, are they confin'd,
30 But the still Bosom and the virtuous Mind.
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31 See Glaro feated on his gilded Car,
32 Whose stubborn Passions wage continual War.
33 Who cannot call that ravag'd Heart his own,
34 Where Vice and Virtue struggle for the Throne.
35 See Rage appearing in that hostile Frown:
36 Now Fears distract him and now Pleasures drown,
37 Now turns to Heav'n with repentant Tears:
38 But the next Hour at his Chaplain sneers:
39 This day a Beast, the next a reas'ning Man:
40 Behold him right, then envy, if you can,
41 Pale Livia too Who pants beneath the weight
42 Of irksom Jewels and afflicting State;
43 Whose Glass and Pillow do her Time divide,
44 At once oppress'd with Sickness and with Pride.
45 The shapely Stays her aking Ribs confine,
46 And in her Ears the sparkling Pendents shine.
47 Yet not a Joy the tortur'd Wretch can feel,
48 Beyond Ixion on his rolling Wheel.
49 See restless Cloe, fond to be admir'd,
50 Of Joy impatient and as quickly tir'd,
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51 When first her Eye-lids open on the Day,
52 With eager haste she gobbles down her Tea,
53 And to the Park commands her rolling Wheels,
54 Yet sighs and wishes for the rural Fields:
55 Then back to Cards and Company she flies,
56 Then for the Charms of melting Musick dies.
57 At Eve the Play, Assembly, or the Ball:
58 She hates them singly, yet wou'd grasp 'em all:
59 With languid Spirits and appal'd Desires,
60 She to her Closet and her Book retires.
61 But Solitude offends the sprightly Fair;
62 Reading she loaths, and Thought she cannot bear.
63 Then to her Chamber and her Couch she flies,
64 Where gilded Chariots swim before her Eyes.
65 In vain for Sleep she folds her weary Arms,
66 Who wou'd be Cloe to enjoy her Charms?
67 In yonder Path Sir Thrifty we behold,
68 With Beaver drooping and with Garments old;
69 Whose dirty Linen shews no Mark of Pride,
70 Nor sparkling Laces deck his slender Side;
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71 Whose heavy Soul a saucy Wit wou'd swear,
72 Was made exactly to his easy Chair.
73 Whose tasteless Senses ask for nothing new,
74 Whose Meals are temp'rate and whose pleasures few:
75 "Is this Man blest? He may be so. But when?
76 "Why, when his Thousands rise to number ten,
77 "From ten to twenty, and from twenty Hold,
78 "To one round Million of bright Sterling Gold; "
79 Not there we stop, for Avarice will crave
80 Till it shall meet with its grand Cure, the Grave.
81 Lavinia's blest with all that Man desires,
82 With Eyes that charm and Reason that inspires;
83 Youth, Wealth, and Friends, to gild her shining Days,
84 The poor Man's Blessing and the rich Man's Praise.
85 With Judgment sound and touch'd by no extreme,
86 Speech gently flowing and a Soul serene,
87 For ever pleasing and for ever true,
88 By all admir'd, envy'd by a few:
89 Then she is happy, tho' beneath the Sky,
90 Hold, not so hasty: Let her Husband die.
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91 Then who are happy, 'twill be hard to say,
92 Since undisturb'd it seldom lasts a Day:
93 For who in Smiles beholds the Morning Sun,
94 May weed before his short-liv'd Journey's done.
95 All Pleasures satiate and all Objects cloy;
96 We crave, we grasp, but loath the tasted Joy:
97 Nor Wealth nor Beauty, Friend's nor Fortune's Smile,
98 Can bless our Moments, tho' they may beguile:
99 Nor Wit with Happiness can often grow,
100 A helpless Friend, if not an arrant Foe.
101 Where then? O where shall Happiness be found?
102 Say, shall we search the rolling World around,
103 On borrow'd Pinions travel through the Sky,
104 Or to the Centre drive our piercing Eye?
105 Cease, busy Fool: Is Happiness thy Care?
106 Pierce thy own Breast, and thou wilt find it there:
107 Drive thence the Passions, and the Guilt expel,
108 And call fair Virtue to the polish'd Cell.
109 Call soft Content with all her smiling Train;
110 Peace for thy Health, and Patience for thy Pain:
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111 Then not till then, O Man, thy Heart shall know
112 Bliss so ador'd, but seldom found below.

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Title (in Source Edition): ESSAY on HAPPINESS.
Author: Mary Leapor
Themes: joyfulness; happiness; manners
Genres: heroic couplet; essay

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Source edition

Poems upon several occasions: By Mrs. Leapor of Brackley in Northamptonshire. London: printed: and sold by J. Roberts, 1748, pp. 54-60. 15,[5],282p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T127827; Foxon p. 413; OTA K101776.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Mary Leapor