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An EPISTLE to Mr. C— J—.

1 THIS motly piece to you I send,
2 Who always were a faithful friend;
3 Who, if disputes should happen hence,
4 Can best explain the author's sense;
5 And, anxious for the public weal,
6 Do, what I sing, so often feel.
7 The want of method pray excuse,
8 Allowing for a vapour'd Muse;
9 Nor to a narrow path confin'd,
10 Hedge in by rules a roving mind.
11 The child is genuine, you may trace
12 Throughout the sire's transmitted face.
13 Nothing is stol'n: my Muse, tho' mean,
14 Draws from the spring she finds within;
15 Nor vainly buys what Gildon sells,
16 Poetick buckets for dry wells.
17 School-helps I want, to climb on high,
18 Where all the ancient treasures lie,
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19 And there unseen commit a theft
20 On wealth in Greek exchequers left.
21 Then where? from whom? what can I steal,
22 Who only with the moderns deal?
23 This were attempting to put on
24 Raiment from naked bodies won:
25 They safely sing before a thief,
26 They cannot give who want relief;
27 Some few excepted, names well known,
28 And justly laurel'd with renown,
29 Whose stamp of genius marks their ware,
30 And theft detects: of theft beware;
31 From Moore so lash'd, example fit,
32 Shun petty larceny in wit.
33 First know, my friend, I do not mean
34 To write a treatise on the Spleen;
35 Nor to prescribe when nerves convulse;
36 Nor mend th' alarum watch, you pulse.
37 If I am right, your question lay,
38 What course I take to drive away
39 The day-mare Spleen, by whose false pleas
40 Men prove mere suicides in ease;
41 And how I do myself demean
42 In stormy world to live serene.
43 When by its magick lantern Spleen
44 With frightful figures spreads life's scene,
45 And threat'ning prospects urg'd my fears,
46 A stranger to the luck of heirs;
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47 Reason, some quiet to restore,
48 Shew'd part was substance, shadow more;
49 With Spleen's dead weight tho' heavy grown,
50 In life's rough tide I sunk not down,
51 But swam, till Fortune threw a rope,
52 Buoyant on bladders fill'd with hope.
53 I always choose the plainest food
54 To mend viscidity of blood.
55 Hail! water-gruel, healing power,
56 Of easy access to the poor;
57 Thy help love's confessors implore,
58 And doctors secretly adore;
59 To thee I fly, by thee dilute
60 Thro' veins my blood doth quicker shoot,
61 And by swift current throws off clean
62 Prolifick particles of Spleen.
63 I never sick by drinking grow,
64 Nor keep myself a cup too low,
65 And seldom Cloe's lodgings haunt,
66 Thrifty of spirits, which I want.
67 Hunting I reckon very good
68 To brace the nerves, and stir the blood;
69 But after no field-honours itch,
70 Atchiev'd by leaping hedge and ditch.
71 While Spleen lies soft relax'd in bed,
72 Or o'er coal fires inclines the head,
73 Hygeia's sons with hound and horn,
74 And jovial cry awake the morn.
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75 These see her from the dusky plight,
76 Smear'd by th' embraces of the night,
77 With roral wash redeem her face,
78 And prove herself of Titan's race,
79 And, mounting in loose robes the skies,
80 Shed light and fragrance as she flies.
81 Then horse and hound fierce joy display,
82 Exulting at the Hark-away,
83 And in pursuit o'er tainted ground
84 From lungs robust field-notes resound.
85 Then, as St. George the dragon slew,
86 Spleen pierc'd, trod down, and dying view;
87 While all their spirits are on wing,
88 And woods, and hills, and vallies ring.
89 To cure the mind's wrong biass, Spleen;
90 Some recommend the bowling-green;
91 Some, hilly walks; all, exercise;
92 Fling but a stone, the giant dies;
93 Laugh and be well. Monkeys have been
94 Extreme good doctors for the Spleen;
95 And kitten, if the humour hit,
96 Has harlequin'd away the fit.
97 Since mirth is good in this behalf,
98 At some partic'lars let us laugh.
99 Witlings, brisk fools, curs'd with half sense,
100 That stimulates their impotence;
101 Who buz in rhyme, and, like blind flies,
102 Err with their wings for want of eyes.
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103 Poor authors worshipping a calf;
104 Deep tragedies that make us laugh,
105 A strict dissenter saying grace,
106 A lect'rer preaching for a place;
107 Folks, things prophetick to dispense,
108 Making the past the future tense,
109 The popish dubbing of a priest,
110 Fine epitaphs on knaves deceas'd,
111 Green-apron'd Pythonissa's rage,
112 Great Aesculapius on his stage,
113 A miser starving to be rich,
114 The prior of Newgate's dying speech,
115 A jointur'd widow's ritual state,
116 Two Jews disputing tête à tête,
117 New almanacks compos'd by seers,
118 Experiments on felons ears,
119 Disdainful prudes, who ceaseless ply
120 The superb muscle of the eye,
121 A coquet's April-weather face,
122 A Queenb'rough mare behind his mace,
123 And fops in military show,
124 Are so'vreign for the case in view.
125 If Spleen-fogs rise at close of day,
126 I clear my ev'ning with a play,
127 Or to some concert take my way.
128 The company, the shine of lights,
129 The scenes of humour, musick's flights,
130 Adjust and set the soul to rights.
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131 Life's moving pictures, well-wrought plays,
132 To others' griefs attention raise:
133 Here, while the tragick fictions glow,
134 We borrow joy by pitying woe;
135 There gaily comick scenes delight,
136 And hold true mirrors to our sight.
137 Virtue in charming dress array'd,
138 Calling the passions to her aid,
139 When moral scenes just actions join,
140 Takes shape, and shews her face divine.
141 Musick has charms, we all may find,
142 Ingratiate deeply with the mind.
143 When art does sound's high pow'r advance,
144 To musick's pipe the passions dance;
145 Motions unwill'd its pow'rs have shewn,
146 Tarantulated by a tune.
147 Many have held the soul to be
148 Nearly ally'd to harmony.
149 Her have I known indulging grief,
150 And shunning company's relief,
151 Unveil her face, and looking round,
152 Own, by neglecting sorrow's wound,
153 The consanguinity of sound.
154 In rainy days keep double guard,
155 Or Spleen will surely be too hard;
156 Which, like those fish by sailors met,
157 Fly highest, while their wings are wet.
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158 In such dull weather, so unfit
159 To enterprize a work of wit,
160 When clouds one yard of azure sky,
161 That's fit for simile, deny,
162 I dress my face with studious looks,
163 And shorten tedious hours with books,
164 But if dull fogs invade the head,
165 That mem'ry minds not what is read,
166 I sit in window dry as ark,
167 And on the drowning world remark:
168 Or to some coffee-house I stray
169 For news, the manna of a day,
170 And from the hipp'd discourses gather,
171 That politicks go by the weather:
172 Then seek good-humour'd tavern chums,
173 And play at cards, but for small sums;
174 Or with the merry fellows quaff,
175 And laugh aloud with them that laugh;
176 Or drink a joco-serious cup
177 With souls who've took their freedom up,
178 And let my mind, beguil'd by talk,
179 In Epicurus' garden walk,
180 Who thought it heav'n to be serene,
181 Pain hell; and purgatory spleen.
182 Sometimes I dress, with women sit,
183 And chat away the gloomy fit;
184 Quit the stiff garb of serious sense,
185 And wear a gay impertinence,
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186 Nor think, nor speak with any pains,
187 But lay on fancy's neck the reins;
188 Talk of unusual swell of waist
189 In maid of honour loosely lac'd,
190 And beauty borr'wing Spanish red,
191 And loving pair with sep'rate bed,
192 And jewels pawn'd for loss of game,
193 And then redeem'd by loss of fame;
194 Of Kitty (aunt left in the lurch
195 By grave pretence to go to church)
196 Perceiv'd in hack with lover fine,
197 Like Will and Mary on the coin:
198 And thus in modish manner we,
199 In aid of sugar, sweeten tea.
200 Permit, ye fair, your idol form
201 Which e'en the coldest heart can warm,
202 May with its beauties grace my line,
203 While I bow down before its shrine,
204 And your throng'd altars with my lays
205 Perfume, and get by giving praise.
206 With speech so sweet, so sweet a mien
207 You excommunicate the Spleen,
208 Which, fiend-like, flies the magick ring
209 You form with sound, when pleas'd to sing;
210 Whate'er you say, howe'er you move,
211 We look, we listen, and approve.
212 Your touch, which gives to feeling bliss,
213 Our nerves officious throng to kiss;
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214 By Celia's pat, on their report,
215 The grave-air'd soul; inclin'd to sport,
216 Renounces wisdom's sullen pomp,
217 And loves the floral game, to romp.
218 But who can view the pointed rays,
219 That from black eyes scintillant blaze?
220 Love on his throne of glory seems
221 Encompass'd with Satellite beams.
222 But when blue eyes, more softly bright,
223 Diffuse benignly humid light,
224 We gaze, and see the smiling loves,
225 And Cytherea's gentle doves,
226 And raptur'd fix in such a face,
227 Love's mercy-seat, and throne of grace.
228 Shine but on age, you melt its snow;
229 Again fires long-extinguish'd glow,
230 And, charm'd by witchery of eyes,
231 Blood long congealed liquifies:
232 True miracle, and fairly done
233 By heads which are ador'd while on.
234 But oh, what pity 'tis to find
235 Such beauties both of form and mind,
236 By modern breeding much debas'd,
237 In half the female world at least!
238 Hence I with care such lott'ries shun,
239 Where, a priz'd miss'd, I'm quite undone;
240 And han't, by vent'ring on a wife,
241 Yet run the greatest risk in life.
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242 Mothers, and guardian aunts, forbear
243 Your impious pains to form the fair,
244 Nor lay out so much cost and art,
245 But to deflow'r the virgin heart;
246 Of ev'ry folly-fost'ring bed
247 By quick'ning heat of custom bred.
248 Rather than by your culture spoil'd,
249 Desist, and give us nature wild,
250 Delighted with a hoyden soul,
251 Which truth and innocence controul.
252 Coquets, leave off affected arts,
253 Gay fowlers at a flock of hearts;
254 Woodcocks to shun your snares have skill,
255 You shew so plain, you strive to kill.
256 In love the artless catch the game,
257 And they scarce miss who never aim.
258 The world's great Author did create
259 The sex to fit the nuptial state,
260 And meant a blessing in a wife
261 To solace the fatigues of life;
262 And old inspired times display,
263 How wives could love, and yet obey.
264 Then truth and patience of controul,
265 And house-wife arts adorn'd the soul;
266 And charms, the gift of nature, shone;
267 And jealousy, a thing unknown:
268 Veils were the only masks they wore;
269 Novels (receipts to make a whore)
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270 Nor ombre, nor quadrille they knew,
271 Nor Pam's puissance felt at loo.
272 Wise men did not, to be thought gay,
273 Then compliment their pow'r away:
274 But lest, by frail desires misled,
275 The girls forbidden paths should tread,
276 Of ign'rance rais'd the safe high wall;
277 We sink haw-haws, that shew them all.
278 Thus we at once solicit sense,
279 And charge them not to break the fence.
280 Now, if untir'd, consider friend,
281 What I avoid to gain my end.
282 I never am at Meeting seen,
283 Meeting, that region of the Spleen;
284 The broken heart, the busy fiend,
285 The inward call, on Spleen depend.
286 Law, licens'd breaking of the peace,
287 To which vacation is disease;
288 A gypsy diction scarce known well
289 By th' magi, who law-fortunes tell
290 I shun; nor let it breed within
291 Anxiety, and that the Spleen;
292 Law, grown a forest, where perplex
293 The mazes, and the brambles vex;
294 Where its twelve verd'rers every day
295 Are changing still the publick way;
296 Yet if we miss our path and err,
297 We grievous penalties incur;
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298 And wand'rers tire, and tear their skin,
299 And then get out where they went in.
300 I never game, and rarely bet,
301 Am loth to lend, or run in debt.
302 No compter-writs me agitate;
303 Who moralizing pass the gate,
304 And there mine eyes on spend thrifts turn,
305 Who vainly o'er their bondage mourn.
306 Wisdom, before beneath their care,
307 Pays her upbraiding visits there,
308 And forces folly thro' the grate
309 Her panegyrick to repeat.
310 This view, profusely when inclin'd,
311 Enters a caveat in the mind:
312 Experience join'd with common sense,
313 To mortals is a providence.
314 Passion, as frequently is seen,
315 Subsiding settles into Spleen.
316 Hence, as the plague of happy life,
317 I run away from party-strife.
318 A prince's cause, a church's claim,
319 I've known to raise a mighty flame,
320 And priest, as stoker, very free
321 To throw in peace and charity.
322 That tribe, whose practicals decree
323 Small-beer the deadliest heresy;
324 Who, fond of pedigree, derive
325 From the most noted whore alive;
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326 Who own wine's old prophetick aid,
327 And love the mitre Bacchus made,
328 Forbid the faithful to depend
329 On half-pint drinkers for a friend,
330 And in whose gay red-letter'd face
331 We read good-living more than grace:
332 Nor they so pure, and so precise,
333 Immac'late as their white of eyes,
334 Who for the spirit hug the Spleen,
335 Phylacter'd throughout all their mien,
336 Who their ill-tasted home-brew'd pray'r
337 To the state's mellow forms prefer;
338 Who doctrines, as infectious, fear,
339 Which are not steep'd in vinegar,
340 And samples of heart-chested grace
341 Expose in shew-glass of the face,
342 Did never me as yet provoke,
343 Either to honour band and cloak,
344 Or deck my hat with leaves of oak.
345 I rail not with mock-patriot grace
346 At folks, because they are in place;
347 Nor, hir'd to praise with stallion pen,
348 Serve the ear-lechery of men;
349 But to avoid religious jars
350 The laws are my expositors,
351 Which in my doubting mind create
352 Conformity to church and state,
353 I go, pursuant to my plan,
354 To Mecca with the caravan,
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355 And think it right in common sense
356 Both for diversion and defence.
357 Reforming schemes are none of mine;
358 To mend the world's a vast design:
359 Like theirs, who tug in little boat,
360 To pull to them the ship afloat,
361 While to defeat their labour'd end,
362 At once both wind and stream contend:
363 Success herein is seldom seen,
364 And zeal, when baffled, turns to Spleen.
365 Happy the man, who, innocent,
366 Grieves not at ills he can't prevent;
367 His skiff does with the current glide,
368 Not puffing pull'd against the tide.
369 He, paddling by the scuffling crowd,
370 Sees unconcern'd life's wager row'd,
371 And when he can't prevent foul play,
372 Enjoys the folly of the fray.
373 By these reflections I repeal
374 Each hasty promise made in zeal.
375 When g—l P—s say,
376 Were bound our great light to display,
377 And Indian darkness drive away,
378 Yet none but drunken watchmen send,
379 And scoundrel link-boys for that end;
380 When they cry up this holy war,
381 Which ev'ry christian should be for,
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382 Yet such as owe the law their ears,
383 We find employ'd as engineers:
384 This view my forward zeal so shocks,
385 In vain they hold the money-box.
386 At such a conduct which intends
387 By vicious means such virtuous ends,
388 I laugh off Spleen, and keep my pence
389 From spoiling Indian innocence.
390 Yet philosophic love of ease
391 I suffer hot to prove disease,
392 But rise up in the virtuous cause
393 Of a free press, and equal laws.
394 The press restrain'd! nefandous thought!
395 In vain our fires have nobly fought:
396 While free from force the press remains,
397 Virtue and Freedom cheer our plains,
398 And Learning largesses bestows,
399 And keeps uncensur'd open house.
400 We to the nation's publick mart
401 Our works ot wit, and schemes of art
402 And philosophic goods this way,
403 Like water carriage cheap convey.
404 This tree, which knowledge so affords,
405 Inquisitors with flaming swords
406 From lay-approach with zeal defend,
407 Lest their own paradise should end.
408 The press from her fecundous womb
409 Brought forth the arts of Greece and Rome;
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410 Her offspring, skill'd in logic war,
411 Truth's banner wav'd in open air;
412 The monster Superstition fled,
413 And hid in shades its Gorgon head;
414 And lawless pow'r, the long-kept field,
415 By reason quell'd, was forc'd to yield.
416 This nurse of arts, and freedom's fence
417 To chain, is treason against sense;
418 And, Liberty, thy thousand tongues
419 None silence, who design no wrongs;
420 For those, that use the gag's restraint,
421 First rob, before they stop complaint.
422 Since disappointment galls within,
423 And subjugates the soul to Spleen,
424 Most schemes, as money-snares, I hate,
425 And bite not at projector's bait.
426 Sufficient wrecks appear each day,
427 And yet fresh fools are cast away.
428 Ere well the bubbled can turn round,
429 Their painted vessel runs aground;
430 Or in deep seas it oversets
431 By a fierce hurricane of debts;
432 Or helm-directors in one trip,
433 Freight first embezzled, sink the ship.
434 Such was of late a corporation,
435 The brazen serpent of the nation,
436 Which when hard accidents distress'd,
437 The poor must look at to be blest,
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438 And thence expect, with paper seal'd
439 By fraud and us'ry, to be heal'd.
440 I in no soul-consumption wait
441 Whole years at levees of the great,
442 And hungry hopes regale the while
443 On the spare diet of a smile.
444 There you may see the idol stand
445 With mirror in his wanton hand;
446 Above, below, now here, now there
447 He throws about the sunny glare:
448 Crowds pant, and press to seize the prize,
449 The gay delusion of their eyes.
450 When Fancy tries her limning skill
451 To draw and colour at her will,
452 And raise and round the figures well,
453 And shew her talent to excel,
454 I guard my heart, lest it should woo
455 Unreal beauties Fancy drew,
456 And disappointed, feel despair
457 At loss of things, that never were.
458 When I lean politicians mark
459 Grazing on aether in the park;
460 Who e'er on wing with open throats
461 Fly at debates, expresses, votes,
462 Just in the manner swallows use,
463 Catching their airy food of news;
464 Whose latrant stomachs oft molest
465 The deep-laid plans their dreams suggest;
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466 Or see some poet pensive sit,
467 Fondly mistaking Spleen for Wit;
468 Who, tho' short-winded, still will aim
469 To sound the epick trumph of Fame;
470 Who still on Phoebus' smiles will doat,
471 Nor learn conviction from his coat;
472 I bless my stars, I never knew
473 Whimfies, which close pursu'd, undo,
474 And have from old experience been
475 Both parent and the child of Spleen.
476 These subjects of Apollo's state,
477 Who from false fire derive their fate,
478 With airy purchases undone
479 Of lands, which none lend money on,
480 Born dull, had follow'd thriving ways,
481 Nor lost one hour to gather bays.
482 Their fancies first delirious grew,
483 And scenes ideal took for true.
484 Fine to the sight Parnassus lies,
485 And with false prospects cheats their eyes;
486 The fabled gods the poets sing,
487 A season of perpetual spring,
488 Brooks, flow'ry fields, and groves of trees,
489 Affording sweets and similes,
490 Gay dreams inspir'd in myrtle bow'rs,
491 And wreaths of undecaying flow'rs,
492 Apollo's harp with airs divine,
493 The sacred musick of the Nine,
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494 Views of the temple rais'd to Fame,
495 And for a vacant nitch proud aim,
496 Ravish their souls, and plainly shew
497 What Fancy's sketching power can do.
498 They will attempt the mountain steep,
499 Where on the top, like dreams in sleep,
500 The Muses revelation shew,
501 That find men crack'd, or make them so.
502 You friend, like me, the trade of rhyme
503 Avoid, elab'rate waste of time,
504 Nor are content to be undone,
505 To pass for Phoebus' crazy son.
506 Poems, the hop-grounds of the brain,
507 Afford the most uncertain gain;
508 And lott'ries never tempt the wise
509 With blanks so many to a prize.
510 I only transient visits pay,
511 Meeting the Muses in my way,
512 Scarce known to the fastidious dames,
513 Nor skill'd to call them by their names.
514 Nor can their passports in these days,
515 Your profit warrant, or your praise.
516 On poems by their dictates writ,
517 Criticks, as sworn appraisers, sit,
518 And mere upholst'rers in a trice
519 On gems and painting set a price.
520 These tayl'ring artists for our lays
521 Invent cramp'd rules, and with strait stays
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522 Striving free Nature's shape to hit,
523 Emaciate sense, before they fit.
524 A common place, and many friends,
525 Can serve the plagiary's ends.
526 Whose easy vamping talent lies,
527 First wit to pilfer, then disguise.
528 Thus some devoid of art and skill
529 To search the mine on Pindus' hill,
530 Proud to aspire and workmen grow,
531 By genius doom'd to stay below,
532 For their own digging shew the town
533 Wit's treasure brought by others down.
534 Some wanting, if they find a mine,
535 An artist's judgment to refine,
536 On fame precipitately fix'd,
537 The ore with baser metals mix'd
538 Melt down, impatient of delay,
539 And call the vicious mass a play.
540 All these engage to serve their ends,
541 A band select of trusty friends,
542 Who, lesson'd right, extol the thing,
543 As Psapho taught his birds to sing;
544 Then to the ladies they submit,
545 Returning officers on wit;
546 A crowded house their presence draws,
547 And on the beaus imposes laws,
548 A judgment in its favour ends,
549 When all the pannel are its friends:
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550 Their natures merciful and mild
551 Have from mere pity sav'd the child;
552 In bulrush ark the bantling found
553 Helpless and ready to be drown'd,
554 They have preserv'd by kind support,
555 And brought the baby-muse to court.
556 But there's a youth that you can name,
557 Who needs no leading strings to fame,
558 Whose quick maturity of brain
559 The birth of Pallas may explain:
560 Dreaming of whose depending fate,
561 I heard Melpomene debate,
562 This, this is he, that was foretold
563 Should emulate our Greeks of old.
564 Inspir'd by me with sacred art,
565 He sings, and rules the varied heart;
566 If Jove's dread anger he rehearse,
567 We hear the thunder in his verse;
568 If he describes love turn'd to rage,
569 The furies riot in his page.
570 If he fair liberty and law
571 By ruffian power expiring draw,
572 The keener passions then engage
573 Aright, and sanctify their rage;
574 If he attempt disastrous love,
575 We hear those plaints that wound the grove,
576 Within the kinder passions glow,
577 And tears distill'd from pity flow.
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578 From the bright vision I descend,
579 And my deserted theme attend.
580 Me never did ambition seize,
581 Strange fever most inflam'd by ease!
582 The active lunacy of pride,
583 That courts jilt Fortune for a bride.
584 This par'dise-tree, so fair and high,
585 I view with no aspiring eye:
586 Like aspine shake the restless leaves,
587 And Sodom-fruit our pains deceives,
588 Whence frequent falls give no surprize,
589 But fits of Spleen, call'd growing wise.
590 Greatness in glitt'ring forms display'd
591 Affects weak eyes much us'd to shade,
592 And by its falsly-envy'd scene
593 Gives self-debasing fits of Spleen.
594 We should be pleas'd that things are so,
595 Who do for nothing see the show,
596 And, middle-siz'd, can pass between
597 Life's hubbub safe, because unseen,
598 And 'midst the glare of greatness trace
599 A watry sun-shine in the face,
600 And pleasures fled to, to redress
601 The sad fatigue of idleness.
602 Contentment, parent of delight,
603 So much a stranger to our sight,
604 Say, goddess, in what happy place
605 Mortals behold thy blooming face;
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606 Thy gracious auspices impart,
607 And for thy temple chuse my heart.
608 They, whom thou deignest to inspire,
609 Thy science learn, to bound desire;
610 By happy alchymy of mind
611 They turn to pleasure all they find;
612 They both disdain an outward mien
613 The grave and solemn garb of Spleen,
614 And meretricious arts of dress,
615 To feign a joy, and hide distress;
616 Unmov'd when the rude tempest blows;
617 Without an opiate they repose;
618 And cover'd by your shield, defy
619 The whizzing shafts, that round them fly:
620 Nor meddling with the gods' affairs,
621 Concern themselves with distant cares;
622 But place their bliss in mental rest,
623 And feast upon the good possess'd.
624 Forc'd by soft violence of pray'r,
625 The blythsome goddess sooths my care,
626 I feel the deity inspire,
627 And thus she models my desire.
628 Two hundred pounds half-yearly paid,
629 Annuity securely made,
630 A farm some twenty miles from town,
631 Small, tight, salubrious, and my own;
632 Two maids, that never saw the town,
633 A serving-man not quite a clown,
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634 A boy to help to tread the mow,
635 And drive, while t'other holds the plough;
636 A chief of temper form'd to please,
637 Fit to converse, and keep the keys;
638 And better to preserve the peace,
639 Commission'd by the name of niece:
640 With understandings of a size
641 To think their master very wise.
642 May heav'n (it's all I wish for) send
643 One genial room to treat a friend,
644 Where decent cup-board, little plate,
645 Display benevolence, not state.
646 And may my humble dwelling stand
647 Upon some chosen spot of land:
648 A pond before full to the brim,
649 Where cows may cool, and geese may swim,
650 Behind, a green like velvet neat,
651 Soft to the eye, and to the feet;
652 Where od'rous plants in evening fair
653 Breathe all around ambrosial air;
654 From Eurus, foe to kitchen-ground,
655 Fenc'd by a slope with bushes crown'd,
656 Fit dwelling for the feather'd throng,
657 Who pay their quit-rents with a song;
658 With op'ning views of hill and dale,
659 Which sense and fancy too regale,
660 Where the half-cirque, which vision bounds,
661 Like amphitheatre surrounds:
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662 And woods impervious to the breeze,
663 Thick phalanx of embodied trees,
664 From hills thro' plains in dusk array
665 Extended far, repel the day.
666 Here stillness, height, and solemn shade
667 Invite, and contemplation aid:
668 Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate
669 The dark decrees and will of fate,
670 And dreams beneath the spreading beech
671 Inspire, and docile fancy teach,
672 While soft as breezy breath of wind,
673 Impulses rustle thro' the mind:
674 Here Dryads, scorning Phoebus' ray,
675 While Pan melodious pipes away,
676 In measur'd motions frisk about,
677 'Till old Silenus puts them out.
678 There see the clover, pea, and bean,
679 Vie in variety of green;
680 Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep,
681 Brown fields their fallow sabbaths keep,
682 Plump Ceres golden tresses wear,
683 And poppy-top-knots deck her hair,
684 And silver-streams through meadows stray,
685 And Naiads on the margin play,
686 And lesser nymphs on side of hills
687 From play-thing urns pour down the rills.
688 Thus shelter'd, free from care and strife,
689 May I enjoy a calm thro' life;
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690 See faction, safe in low degree,
691 As men at land see storms at sea,
692 And laugh at miserable elves,
693 Not kind, so much as to themselves,
694 Curs'd with such souls of base alloy,
695 As can possess, but not enjoy;
696 Debar'd the pleasure to impart
697 By av'rice, sphincter of the heart,
698 Who wealth, hard earn'd by guilty cares,
699 Bequeath untouch'd to thankless heirs.
700 May I, with look ungloom'd by guile,
701 And wearing Virtue's liv'ry-smile,
702 Prone the distressed to relieve,
703 And little trespasses forgive,
704 With income not in Fortune's pow'r,
705 And skill to make a busy hour,
706 With trips to town life to amuse,
707 To purchase books, and hear the news,
708 To see old friends, brush off the clown,
709 And quicken taste at coming down,
710 Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage,
711 And slowly mellowing in age,
712 When Fate extends its gathering gripe,
713 Fall off like fruit grown fully ripe,
714 Quit a worn being without pain,
715 Perhaps to blossom soon again.
716 But now more serious see me grow,
717 And what I think, my Memmius, know.
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718 Th' enthusiast's hopes, and raptures wild
719 Have never yet my reason foil'd.
720 His springy soul dilates like air,
721 When free from weight of ambient care,
722 And, hush'd in meditation deep,
723 Slides into dreams, as when asleep;
724 Then, fond of new discoveries grown,
725 Proves a Columbus of her own,
726 Disdains the narrow bounds of place,
727 And thro' the wilds of endless space,
728 Borne up on metaphysick wings,
729 Chases light forms, and shadowy things,
730 And in the vague excursion caught,
731 Brings home some rare exotick thought.
732 The melancholy man such dreams,
733 As brightest evidence, esteems;
734 Fain would he see some distant scene
735 Suggested by his restless Spleen,
736 And Fancy's telescope applies
737 With tinctur'd glass to cheat his eyes.
738 Such thoughts, as love the gloom of night,
739 I close examine by the light;
740 For who, tho' brib'd by gain to lie,
741 Dare sun-beam-written truths deny,
742 And execute plain common sense
743 On faith's mere hearsay evidence?
744 That superstition mayn't create,
745 And club its ill with those of fate,
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746 I many a notion take to task,
747 Made dreadful by its visor-mask.
748 Thus scruple, spasm of the mind,
749 Is cur'd, and certainty I find,
750 Since optick reason shews me plain,
751 I dreaded spectres of the brain,
752 And legendary fears are gone,
753 Tho' in tenacious childhood sown.
754 Thus in opinions I commence
755 Freeholder in the proper sense,
756 And neither suit nor service do,
757 Nor homage to pretenders shew,
758 Who boast themselves by spurious roll
759 Lords of the manor of the soul;
760 Preferring sense, from chin that's bare,
761 To nonsense thron'd in whisker'd hair.
762 To thee, Creator uncreate,
763 O Entium Ens! divinely great!
764 Hold, Muse, nor melting pinions try,
765 Nor near the blazing glory fly,
766 Nor straining break thy feeble bow,
767 Unfeather'd arrows far to throw:
768 Thro' fields unknown nor madly stray,
769 Where no ideas mark the way.
770 With tender eyes, and colours faint,
771 And trembling hands forbear to paint.
772 Who features veil'd by light can hit?
773 Where can, what has no outline, sit?
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774 My soul, the vain attempt forego,
775 Thy self, the fitter subject, know.
776 He wisely shuns the bold extreme,
777 Who soon lays by th' unequal theme,
778 Nor runs, with wisdom's Sirens caught,
779 On quicksands swall'wing shipwreck'd thought;
780 But, conscious of his distance, gives
781 Mute praise, and humble negatives.
782 In one, no object of our sight,
783 Immutable and infinite,
784 Who can't be cruel, or unjust,
785 Calm and resign'd, I fix my trust;
786 To him my past and present state
787 I owe, and must my future fate.
788 A stranger into life I'm come,
789 Dying may be our going home,
790 Transported here by angry Fate,
791 The convicts of a prior state.
792 Hence I no anxious thoughts bestow
793 On matters, I can never know;
794 Thro' life's foul way, like vagrant pass'd,
795 He'll grant a settlement at last,
796 And with sweet ease the wearied crown,
797 By leave to lay his being down.
798 If doom'd to dance th' eternal round
799 Of life no sooner lost but found,
800 And dissolution soon to come,
801 Like spunge, wipes out life's present sum,
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802 But can't our state of pow'r bereave
803 An endless series to receive;
804 Then, if hard dealt with here by fate,
805 We ballance in another state,
806 And consciousness must go along,
807 And sign th' acquittance for the wrong.
808 He for his creatures must decree
809 More happiness than misery,
810 Or be supposed to create,
811 Curious to try, what 'tis to hate:
812 And do an act, which rage infers,
813 'Cause lameness halts, or blindness errs.
814 Thus, thus I steer my bark, and sail
815 On even keel with gentle gale;
816 At helm I make my reason sit,
817 My crew of passions all submit.
818 If dark and blust'ring prove some nights,
819 Philosophy puts forth her lights;
820 Experience holds the cautious glass,
821 To shun the breakers, as I pass,
822 And frequent throws the wary lead,
823 To see what dangers may be hid:
824 And once in seven years I'm seen
825 At Bath or Tunbridge, to careen.
826 Tho' pleas'd to see the dolphins play,
827 I mind my compass and my way,
828 With store sufficient for relief,
829 And wisely still prepar'd to reef,
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830 Nor wanting the dispersive bowl
831 Of cloudy weather in the soul,
832 I make (may heav'n propitious send
833 Such wind and weather to the end)
834 Neither becalm'd, nor over-blown,
835 Life's voyage to the world unknown.


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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): The SPLEEN. An EPISTLE to Mr. C— J—.
    Author: Matthew Green
    Themes: advice; moral precepts; women; female character; virtue; vice
    Genres: epistle; philosophic poetry
    References: DMI 21318

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    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. I. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 116-146. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163)

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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.