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The Duty of Employing one's Self.


1 FEW people know it, yet, dear sir, 'tis true,
2 Man should have somewhat evermore to do.
3 Hard labour's tedious, every one must own;
4 But surely better such by far, than none;
5 The perfect drone, the quite impertinent,
6 Whose life at nothing aims, but to be spent;
7 Such heaven visits for some mighty ill:
8 'Tis sure the hardest labour, to sit still.
9 Hence that unhappy tribe who nought pursue:
10 Who sin, for want of something else to do.
11 Sir John is bless'd with riches, honour, love
12 And to be bless'd indeed, needs only move.
13 For want of this, with pain he lives away,
14 A lump of hardly-animated clay:
15 Dull till his double bottle does him right:
16 He's easy just at twelve o'clock at night.
17 Thus for one sparkling hour alone he's blest;
18 While spleen and head-ach seize on all the rest.
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19 What numbers, sloth with gloomy humours fills!
20 Racking their brains with visionary ills.
21 Hence what loud outcries, and well-meaning rage,
22 What endless quarrels at the present age!
23 How many blame! how often may we hear,
24 "Such vice! well, sure, the last day must be near!"
25 T' avoid such wild, imaginary pains,
26 The sad creation of distemper'd brains,
27 Dispatch, dear friend! move, labour, sweat, run, fly!
28 Do aught but think the day of judgment nigh.
29 There are, who've lost all relish for delight:
30 With them no earthly thing is ever right.
31 T' expect to alter to their taste, were vain;
32 For who can mend so fast, as they complain?
33 Whate'er you do, shall be a crime with such;
34 One while you've lost your tongue, then talk too much:
35 Thus shall you meet their waspish censure still;
36 As hedge-hogs prick you, go which side you will.
37 Oh! pity these whene'er you see them swell!
38 Folks call 'em cross poor men! they are not well.
39 How many such, in indolence grown old,
40 With vigour ne'er do any thing, but scold?
41 Who spirits only from ill-humour get;
42 Like wines that die, unless upon the fret.
43 Weary'd of flouncing to himself alone,
44 Acerbus keeps a man to fret upon.
45 The fellow's nothing in the earth to do,
46 But to sit quit and be scolded to.
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47 Pishes and oaths, whene'er the master's sour'd,
48 All largely on the scape-goat slave are pour'd.
49 This drains his rage; and tho' to John so rough,
50 Abroad you'd think him complaisant enough.
51 As for myself, whom poverty prevents
52 From being angry at so great expence;
53 Who, should I ever be inclin'd to rage,
54 For want of slaves, war with myself must wage;
55 Must rail, and hear; chastising, be chastis'd:
56 Be both the tyrant, and the tyranniz'd;
57 I chuse to labour, rather than to fret:
58 What's rage in some, in me goes off in sweat.
59 If times are ill, and things seem never worse;
60 Men, manners to reclaim, I take my horse.
61 One mile reforms 'em, or if aught remain
62 Unpurg'd, 'tis but to ride as far again.
63 Thus on myself in toils I spend my rage:
64 I pay the fine; and that absolves the age.
65 Sometimes, still more to interrupt my ease,
66 I take my pen, and write such things as these:
67 Which tho' all other merit be deny'd,
68 Shew my devotion still to be employ'd.
69 Add too, tho' writing be itself a curse,
70 Yet some distempers are a curse for worse:
71 And since 'midst indolence, spleen will prevail,
72 Since who do nothing else, are sure to rail;
73 Man should be suffer'd thus to play the fool,
74 To keep from hurt, as children go to school.
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75 You should not rhyme in spite of nature? True;
76 Yet sure 'tis greater trouble, if you do;
77 And if 'tis lab'ring only, men profess,
78 Who writes the hardest, writes with most success.
79 Thus for myself, and friends, I do my part;
80 Promoting doubly the pains-taking art:
81 First to myself, 'tis labour to compose;
82 To read such lines, is drudgery to those.


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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): The Duty of Employing one's Self. An EPISTLE.
    Author: Edward Rolle
    Themes: virtue; vice; trades; labour
    Genres: heroic couplet; epistle
    References: DMI 22624

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    Source edition

    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. III. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 64-67. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.003) (Page images digitized by the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive from a copy in the archive's library.)

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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.