A SATIRE in the Manner of PERSIUS, in a Dialogue between ATTICUS and EUGENIO.
1 WHY wears my pensive friend that gloomy brow?
2 Say, whence proceeds th' imaginary woe?
3 What prosp'rous villain hast thou met to-day?
4 Or hath afflicted Virtue cross'd thy way?
5 Is it some crime unpunish'd you deplore,
6 Or right subverted by injurious Power?
7 Be this or that the cause, 'tis wisely done
8 To make the sorrows of mankind your own:
9 To see the injur'd pleading unredress'd,
10 The proud exalted, and the meek oppress'd,
11 Can hurt thy health, and rob thee of thy rest.
12 Your cares are in a hopeful way to cease,
13 If you must find perfection to find peace.
14 But reck thy malice, vent thy stifled rage,
15 Inveigh against the times and lash the age. —
16 Perhaps just recent from the court you come,
17 O'er public ills to ruminate at home:
18 Say, which of all the wretches thou hast seen
19 Hath thrown a morsel to thy hungry spleen?[Page 148]
20 What worthless member of that medley throng,
21 Who basely acts, or tamely suffers wrong?
22 He, who to nothing but his int'rest true,
23 Cajoles the fool he's working to undo:
24 Or that more despicable timorous slave,
25 Who knows himself abus'd, yet hugs the knave?
26 Perhaps you mourn our senate's sinking fame,
27 That shew of freedom dwindled to a name:
28 Where hireling judges deal their venal laws,
29 And the best bidder hath the justest cause;
30 What then?
31 They have the pow'r, and who shall dare to blame
32 The legal wrong that bears Astraea's name?
33 Besides, such thoughts shou'd never stir the rage
34 Of youthful gall; — reflection comes with age:
35 'Tis our decaying life's autumnal fruit,
36 The bitter produce of our latest shoot,
37 When ev'ry blossom of the tree is dead,
38 Enjoyment wither'd, and our wishes fled:
39 Thine still is in its spring, on ev'ry bough
40 Fair Plenty blooms, and youthful Odours blow;
41 Season of joy, too early to be wise,
42 The time to covet pleasures, not despise:
43 Yours is an age when trifles ought to please,
44 Too soon for reason to attack thy ease.
45 Tho' soon the hour shall come, when thou shalt know
46 'Tis vain fruition ull, and empty shew.[Page 149]
47 But late examine, late inspect mankind,
48 If seeing pains, 'tis prudence to be blind.
49 Let not their vices yet employ thy thoughts,
50 Laugh at their follies, ere you weep their faults:
51 And when (as sure you must) at length you find
52 What things men are, resolve to arm your mind.
53 Too nicely never their demerits scan,
54 And of their virtues make the most you can.
55 Silent avert the mischief they intend,
56 And cross, but seem not to discern, their end:
57 If they prevail, submit, for prudence lies
58 In suffering well. — 'Tis equally unwise,
59 To see the injuries we won't resent,
60 And mourn the evils which we can't prevent.
61 You counsel well to bid me arm my mind.
62 Wou'd the receipt were easy, as 'tis kind;
63 But hard it is for misery to reach
64 That fortitude prosperity can teach.
65 Cou'd I forbid what has been to have been,
66 Or lodge a doubt on truths myself have seen;
67 Cou'd I divest remembrance of her store,
68 And say, collect these images no more;
69 Cou'd I dislodge sensation from my breast,
70 And charm her wakeful faculties to rest;
71 Cou'd I my nature and myself subdue,
72 I might the method you prescribe pursue.[Page 150]
73 But if unfeign'd afflictions we endure,
74 If reason's our disease, and not our cure,
75 Then seeming ease is all we can obtain;
76 As one, who long familiariz'd to pain,
77 Still feels the smart, but ceases to complain.
78 Tho' young in life, yet long inur'd to care,
79 Thus I submissive every evil bear:
80 If unexpected ills alone are hard,
81 Mine shou'd be light, who am for all prepar'd:
82 No disappointments can my peace annoy,
83 Disuse has wean'd me from all hopes of joy:
84 The vain pursuit for ever I give o'er,
85 Repuls'd I strive, betray'd I trust no more:
86 Mankind I know, their nature, and their art,
87 Their vice their own, their virtue but a part;
88 Ill play'd so oft, that all the cheat can tell,
89 And dang'rous only where 'tis acted well.
90 In different classes rang'd, a different name
91 Attends their practice, but the heart's the same.
92 Their hate is interest, interest too their love,
93 On the same springs these different engines move:
94 That sharpens malice, and directs her sting,
95 And thence the honey'd streams of flattery spring.
96 Long I suspected what at last I know:
97 I thought men worthless, now I've prov'd 'em so;
98 Reluctant prov'd it, by too sure a rule,
99 I learn'd my science in a painful school.[Page 151]
100 He buys e'en wisdom at too dear a price,
101 Who pays my sad experience to be wise.
102 Why did I hope, by sanguine views possess'd,
103 That Virtue harbour'd in a human breast?
104 Why did I trust to Flattery's specious wile,
105 The April sunshine of her transient smile?
106 Why disbelieve the lessons of the wise,
107 That taught me young to pierce her thin disguise?
108 I thought their rancour, not their prudence, spoke,
109 That age perverse in false invectives broke;
110 I thought their comments on this gaudy scene
111 The effects of phlegm, and dictated by spleen;
112 That jealous of the joys themselves were past,
113 Their envy try'd to pall their children's taste:
114 Like the deaf adder to the charmer's tongue,
115 I gave no credit to the truths they sung;
116 But, happy in a visionary scheme,
117 Still sought companions worthy my esteem:
118 The tongue, the heart's interpreter I deem'd,
119 And judg'd of what men were by what they seem'd;
120 I thought each warm professor meant me fair,
121 Each supple sycophant a friend sincere.
122 The solemn hypocrite, whose close design
123 Mirth never interrupts, nor love, nor wine,
124 Who talks on any secret but his own,
125 Collecting all, communicating none;
126 Who still attentive to what others say,
127 Observes to wound, or questions to betray;[Page 152]
128 Of him as guardian of my private thought,
129 In morning counsels cool resolves I sought;
130 To him still open, cautiously consign'd
131 The inmost treasures of my secret mind;
132 My joys, and griefs delighted to impart,
133 In sacred confidence unmix'd with art;
134 That dangerous pleasure of the honest heart!
135 Whene'er I purpos'd to unbend my soul
136 In social banquets, where the circling bowl
137 To gladness lifts all sorrows but despair,
138 And gives a transient Lethe to our care;
139 I chose the men whose talents entertain
140 And season converse with a lively strain;
141 Who thoughtless still, by hope, nor fear perplex'd,
142 Enjoy the present hour, and risque the next.
143 These not the luxury of slothful ease,
144 Soft downy beds, nor balmy slumbers please;
145 While wakeful kings on purple couches own
146 The secret sorrows of their envy'd crown,
147 And wait revolving light, with shorter rest
148 Than e'en those wretches by their power opprest:
149 This jocund train, devoted to delight,
150 In chearful vigils still protract the night,
151 Nor dread the cares approaching with the day;
152 Thro' each vicissitude for ever gay.
153 With such I commun'd, pleas'd that I cou'd find
154 Recess so grateful to the active mind:[Page 153]
155 And while the youths in sprightly contest try,
156 With humorous tale, or apposite reply,
157 Or amorous song, or inoffensive jest,
158 (The test of wit) to glad the lengthen'd feast;
159 My soul, said I, depend upon their truth,
160 For fraud inhabits not the breast of youth;
161 Indulge thy genius here, be free, be safe,
162 Mirth is their aim, they covet but to laugh;
163 Pure from deceit, as ignorant of care,
164 Their friendship, and their joys are both sincere.
165 I judg'd their nature, like their humour good;
166 As if the soul depended on the blood;
167 And that the seeds of honesty must grow
168 Wherever health resides, or spirits flow.
169 I see my error: but I see too late:
170 'Tis vain inspection to look back on Fate. —
171 What are the men who most esteem'd we find,
172 But such whose vices are the most refin'd?
173 Blind preference! for vice like poison shews,
174 The surest death is in the subtlest dose. —
175 To such reflections when I turn my mind,
176 I loath my being, and abhor mankind.
177 What joy for truth, what commerce for the just,
178 If all our safety's founded on distrust;
179 If all our wisdom is a mean deceit,
180 And he who prospers but the ablest cheat!
181 O early wise! how well hast thou defin'd
182 The worth, the joys, the friendship of mankind!
183 Blest be the pow'rs, I know their abject state.
184 Yet bear with this, and hope a better fate.
185 Thrice happy they, who view with stable eyes
186 The shifting scene, who temp'rate, firm, and wise,
187 Can bear its sorrows, and its joys despise;
188 Who look on disappointments, shocks, and strife,
189 And all the consequential ills of life,
190 Not as severities the gods impose,
191 But easy terms indulgent Heav'n allows
192 To man, by short probation to obtain
193 Immortal recompence for transient pain.
194 Th' intent of Heav'n thus rightly understood,
195 From every evil we extract a good:
196 This truth divine implanted in the heart,
197 Supports each drudging mortal thro' his part;
198 Gives a delightful prospect to the blind;
199 The friendless thence a constant succour find:
200 The wretch by fraud betray'd, by pow'r oppress'd,
201 With this restorative still soothes his breast;
202 This suffering Virtue chears, this Pain beguiles,
203 And decks Calamity herself in smiles.
204 When Mead and Freind have ransack'd ev'ry rule,
205 Taught in Hippocrates' and Galen's school,[Page 155]
206 To quiet ills that mock the leech's art,
207 Which opiates fail to deaden in the heart,
208 This cordial still th' incurable sustains:
209 He triumphs in the sharp instructive pains,
210 Nor like a Roman hero, falsely great,
211 With impious hand anticipates his fate;
212 But waits resign'd the slow approach of death;
213 Till that great Power who gave, demands his breath.
214 Such are thy solid comforts, love divine,
215 Such solid comforts, O my friend, be thine.
216 On this firm basis thy foundation lay,
217 Of happiness unsubject to decay.
218 On man no more, that frail support, depend,
219 The kindest patron, or the warmest friend;
220 The warmest friend may one day prove untrue,
221 And interest change the kindest patron's view.
222 Hear not, my friend, the fondness they profess,
223 Nor on the trial grieve to find it less:
224 With patience each capricious change endure;
225 Careful to merit where reward is sure.
226 To Providence implicitly resign'd,
227 Let this grand precept poise thy wavering mind:
228 With partial eyes we view our own weak cause,
229 And rashly scan her upright equal laws:
230 For undeserv'd she ne'er inflicts a woe,
231 Nor is her recompence unsure, tho' slow.
232 Unpunish'd none transgress, deceiv'd none trust,
233 Her rules are fixt, and all her ways are just.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): A SATIRE in the Manner of PERSIUS, in a Dialogue between ATTICUS and EUGENIO.
Author: John Hervey, Baron of Ickworth
Themes: hopelessness; vanity of life; manners; contentment; friendship
Genres: heroic couplet; dialogue
References: DMI 1128
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- An Imitation of the Eleventh Ode of the First Book of HORACE. ()
- A LOVE LETTER. ()
- ROXANA to USBECK. From LES LETTRES PERSANNES. ()
- To Mr. FOX, written at FLORENCE. In Imitation of HORACE, Ode 4. Book 2. ()
- To the Same. From Hampton-Court, 1731. ()