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CHIRON to ACHILLES,

A POEM.

Res est severa voluptas.
[ed.] (trans.) "Pleasure is a serious business". (AH)
1 OLD CHIRON to his pupil thus began,
2 When he beheld him rip'ning into man.
3 "Accomplish'd youth! well worthy of my pains,
4 "You now are free, and guide yourself the reins:
5 "Yet hear, Achilles, hear, before we part,
6 "A few short precepts from a faithful heart.
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7 "What tho' the gods a Nestor's age deny!
8 "Let management a longer life supply,
9 "And learn, at least, to live, before you die.
10 "A little tract, well till'd, more profit yields
11 "Than realms of wild, uncultivated fields.
12 "'Tis not from length of years our pleasures flow,
13 "Nor to the gods alone our bliss we owe.
14 "Our happiness, and pain depend on us:
15 "Man's his own good, or evil genius.
16 "Great ills by art we lighten, or remove,
17 "And art our meanest pleasures may improve:
18 "Much to ourselves is due, tho' much to Jove.
19 "Think not, young prince, your elevated state,
20 "Birth, honours, or the empty name of great,
21 "Can fix your joys; they're ill secur'd, unless
22 "You know yourself to form your happiness,
23 "Which in the shepherd's humble hut is found,
24 "While palaces with discord still resound.
25 "Fortune to industry is ever kind,
26 "And, tho' by the blind vulgar painted blind,
27 "Is still more equal than the crowd suppose,
28 "Who judge of happiness by outward shows;
29 "She smiles on all conditions, each may be
30 "A man of pleasure in his own degree.
31 "Yet few with art their happiness pursue,
32 "Tho' all mankind have happiness in view,
33 "And ev'ry sense seems made by nature's skill
34 "For giving pleasure and avoiding ill.
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35 "Nature our common mother has been kind,
36 "And for a race of joy her sons design'd,
37 "Who long to reach the goal, yet lazy, lag behind,
38 "Or wholly blind, or doubtful how t' advance,
39 "They leave the work of industry to chance.
40 "And of those few who with more active strife
41 "Pursue this great, important end of life,
42 "Some, too impatient, know not how to wait;
43 "Or aim at things beyond their human state:
44 "These last thro' too much delicacy fall,
45 "And by refining rob themselves of all.
46 "Shun then, Achilles, shun the faults of such,
47 "Who still propose too little, or too much.
48 "Stretch not your hopes too far, nor yet despair,
49 "But above all, of indolence beware.
50 "Attend to what you do, or life will seem
51 "But a mere vision, or fantastick dream,
52 "Pass'd in ideas of delight, at best:
53 "While real pleasure's lost in doubtful rest.
54 "In short, learn when, and how to bear; in vain
55 "He pleasure seeks, who is afraid of pain;
56 "Pleasure's a serious thing, and cheaply bought
57 "By labour, patience, management, and thought.
58 "But you, aspiring youth, by nature seem
59 "Addicted to an opposite extreme;
60 "Impetuous, and restless, soon inflam'd,
61 "And, like a generous courser, hardly tam'd;
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62 "In all things violent: but, O! disdain,
63 "Brave prince, to let usurping passion reign,
64 "In one rash moment sacrificing more
65 "Than years of sad repentance may restore.
66 "As Thracian winds the Euxine sea molest,
67 "So wrath, and envy, from an human breast
68 "Drive Halcyon peace, and banish kindly rest.
69 "And no security for joy is found,
70 "But in a mind that's tractable and sound.
71 "Suppress the first emotions of your ire,
72 "And smother in its birth the kindling fire.
73 "Ere anger yet possesses all your soul,
74 "Ere yet your bosom heaves, and eyeballs roll,
75 "Think on the useful precepts, I have taught,
76 "And meet the rising heat with wholsome thought.
77 "Or seek the sacred Muses with your lyre,
78 "Who with sweet peace to lonely shades retire;
79 "Gods, and the sons of gods, the heroes, sing,
80 "While hills and valleys with their praises ring;
81 "These learn to imitate, and those adore,
82 "And sweetly to yourself, yourself restore;
83 "Musick, and verse, and solitude controul
84 "Impetuous fury, and compose the soul.
85 "For this, I early taught you how to sing,
86 "And form'd your fingers to the trembling string;
87 "For 'tis not all sweet pleasure's path to show:
88 "The art of consolation man should know:
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89 "Our joys are short, and broken; and in vain
90 "To constant bliss would human race attain:
91 "Be oft contented to be free from pain.
92 "There is a deity ordain'd by fate,
93 "To damp our joys immoderately great,
94 "That none on earth from sorrow should be free,
95 "But ev'n our blessings taste of misery.
96 "If fortune gives, what rarely we obtain,
97 "An equal share of pleasure, and of pain,
98 "Our portion is o'er-paid, the rest you'll find
99 "But fond ideas of the wanton mind;
100 "Which now vain scenes of godlike pleasure shows,
101 "And now creates imaginary woes.
102 "When sad, your ills examine and compare,
103 "Judge of your own by what another's are.
104 "Consider greater wretches, and the fates
105 "Of mighty heroes, and of mighty states:
106 "Thus real evils in their proper light
107 "Appear, the false thus vanish out of sight.
108 "Nor aim at pleasures difficult to gain,
109 "Choose rather what you may with ease obtain.
110 "Who scorns to trifle, is by pride abus'd:
111 "I pity him who ne'er can be amus'd;
112 "But slighting pleasures moderate and small,
113 "Must live in rapture, or not live at all,
114 "Great pleasures still are near ally'd to pain:
115 "Who quits the peaceful shore, and ploughs the main,
116 "Big waves and mighty tempests must sustain.
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117 "Let not such fond ambition to be blest,
118 "The humbler pleasures in your power molest;
119 "Yet cherish hope; for without hope there's none:
120 "Taste hope; but be not fed with that alone.
121 "Some their whole lives in expectation spend,
122 "As life were not begun, or ne'er would end;
123 "Fondly from day to day themselves deceive,
124 "Not living, but intending still to live;
125 "While they neglect the joys they might possess,
126 "For empty dreams of future happiness.
127 "Let nature in your pleasures be your guide,
128 "Nor suffer art her genuine charms to hide:
129 "Her beauties with unwearied eyes we see;
130 "The truth of beauty is simplicity.
131 "Live not by imitation, servile state!
132 "Nor on the fashion for your pleasures wait.
133 "Man, otherwise so selfish, or so proud,
134 "Submits his taste to the fantastick crowd,
135 "And lives not for himself; do you pursue
136 "Your own desires, and to yourself be true.
137 "As bees extract their sweets from ev'ry flow'r,
138 "So you your joys from all things in your pow'r,
139 "With industry and management produce;
140 "The meanest trifles are sometimes of use.
141 "Yet know well what you do, and when 'tis done,
142 "Nor at all hours to every pleasure run;
143 "But mix with art your pleasures, and your toils;
144 "For pleasures have their seasons, and their soils.
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145 "Thus when the earliest dawn of eastern light
146 "Proclaims the finish'd empire of the night,
147 "Haste to the field, Achilles, nor disdain
148 "To chace the foaming monster o'er the plain,
149 "Or teach the untam'd steed to feel the rein;
150 "Or let your car and arms your nerves prepare,
151 "Or for Olympick games or future war:
152 "Then, whether arts or glory fire your mind,
153 "Will thoughts more generous rise, or more refin'd;
154 "Aurora to the Muses still is kind.
155 "At noon, a simple short repast be made;
156 "A shorter slumber in the cooling shade;
157 "What's gay and light th' unbended mind employs,
158 "Or sports, or past delights, or future joys.
159 "But when the ev'ning-star begins to rise,
160 "When Phoebus' fainting steeds forsake the skies,
161 "Still cheerful at the well-spread board be found,
162 "Amidst bright friends, and with fresh garlands crown'd,
163 "While wine, and Thais with her voice and lyre,
164 "Banish old sorrows, and new joys inspire.
165 "Thus when from toils of empire you are free,
166 "Nor camp, nor council claim your liberty,
167 "The morn to labour and the Muses give;
168 "At noon with temperance and quiet live;
169 "Ceres' and Bacchus' gifts at ev'ning prove;
170 "Divide the night with Somnus and with Love.
171 "Thus, thus, Pelides, drive your cares away,
172 "Nor fear the evil, till the evil day.
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173 "What tho' on Simois' or Scamander's shore,
174 "Far off from home the Greeks your death deplore?
175 "No matter where, or when; it once must be,
176 "And nothing can revoke the firm decree.
177 "Tho' Thetis' son, tho' third from mighty Jove,
178 "Eternal monarch of the realms above,
179 "Nor Jove, nor Thetis, can your days recal,
180 "Or for an hour defer you destin'd fall.
181 "Mean while a looser rein to pleasure give:
182 "Time flies in haste, be you in haste to live:
183 "Seize on the precious minutes, as they fleet;
184 "Your life, however short, will be compleat,
185 "If at the fatal moment you can say,
186 "I've liv'd, and made the most of ev'ry day!
187 "One precept more I fain would recommend,
188 "And then old Chiron's tedious lessons end.
189 "Learn, gen'rous prince, what's little understood,
190 "The godlike happiness of doing good.
191 "How glorious to defend, and to bestow!
192 "From nobler springs can human pleasure flow?
193 "A solid good which nothing can destroy,
194 "The best prerogative the great enjoy.
195 "For this, remember, monarchs first were made,
196 "For this, young prince, be lov'd, and be obey'd,
197 "At once your self, and mighty nations bless,
198 "And make humanity your happiness.
199 "But now Aurora ushers in the day,
200 "And fond, expecting Peleus chides your stay.
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201 "Go then, brave youth, where'er the Fates may call;
202 "Live with design, and fearless wait thy fall,
203 "Whatever space of life the gods decree,
204 "Thy name is still immortal; for I see
205 "More than another Peleus rise in thee.
206 "Thy fame the
a Homer.
prince of sacred bards shall fire,
207 "Thy deeds the
b By Alexander, who had Homer's Iliad always with him, proposing Achilles for his example.
conquest of the world inspire.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): CHIRON to ACHILLES, A POEM.
    Themes: advice; moral precepts; contentment
    Genres: heroic couplet; advice
    References: DMI 12330

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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. 172-180. 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.