To another Friend under Affliction.
1 Since the first Man by Disobedience fell
2 An easy Conquest to the Pow'rs of Hell,
3 There's none, in every Stage of Life can be
4 From the Insults of bold Affliction free.
5 If a short respite gives us some Relief,
6 And interrupts the Series of our Grief,
7 So quick the Pangs of Misery return,
8 We Joy by Minutes, but by Years we Mourn. [Page 61]
9 Reason refin'd and to perfection brought,
10 By wise Philosophy, and serious Thought,
11 Supports the Soul beneath the pond'rous Weight
12 Of angry Stars, and unpropitious Fate,
13 Then is the time she should exert her Pow'r,
14 And make us practice what she taught before.
15 For why are such Volum'nous Authors read,
16 The learned Labours of the famous Dead.
17 But to prepare the Mind for its defence,
18 By sage Results, and well-digested, Sense;
19 That when the Storm of Misery appears
20 With all its real, or fantastick Fears,
21 We either may the rolling danger fly,
22 Or stem the Tide before it swells too high.
23 But tho' the Theory of Wisdom's known
24 With ease, what should, and what should not be done:
25 Yet all the labour in the Practice lies,
26 To be in more than Words, and Notion wise,
27 The sacred Truths of sound Philosophy
28 We study early, but we late apply.
29 When stubborn Anguish seizes on the Soul,
30 Right-Reason would its haughty Rage controul;
31 But if it mayn't be suffer'd, to endure
32 The Pain is just, when we reject the Cure.
33 For many Men, close observation finds,
34 Of copious Learning, and exalted Minds;
35 Who tremble at the sight of daring Woes,
36 And stoop ignobly to the vilest Foes;[Page 62]
37 As if they understood not how to be
38 Or wise, or brave, but in Felicity;
39 And by some Action, servile, or unjust,
40 Lay all their former Glories in the Dust.
41 For Wisdom first the wretched Mortal flies,
42 And leaves him naked to his Enemies.
43 So that when most his Prudence should be shown,
44 The most imprudent giddy things are done:
45 For when the Mind's surrounded with Distress,
46 Fear, or Inconstancy, the Judgment press,
47 And render it incapable to make
48 Wise Resolutions, or good Counsels take.
49 Yet there's a steadiness of Soul, and Thought,
50 By Reason bred, and by Religion taught,
51 Which, like a Rock amidst the stormy Waves,
52 Unmov'd remains, and all Affliction braves.
53 In sharp Misfortunes some will search too deep,
54 What Heaven prohibits, and would secret keep:
55 But those Events 'tis better not to know,
56 Which known, serve only to increase our Woe.
57 Knowledge forbid, ('tis dang'rous to pursue,)
58 With Guilt begins, and ends with Ruin too.
59 For had our earliest Parents been content
60 Not to know more, than to be innocent:
61 Their Ignorance of Evil had preserv'd
62 Their Joys entire; for then they had not swerv'd.
63 But they imagin'd, (their Desires were such,)
64 They knew too little, till they knew too much. [Page 63]
65 E'er since by Folly most to Wisdom rise,
66 And few are, but by sad Experience, Wise.
67 Consider, Friend! who all your Blessings gave,
68 What are recall'd again, and what you have;
69 And do not murmur, when you are bereft
70 Of little, if you have abundance left.
71 Consider too, how many Thousands are
72 Under the worst of Miseries, Despair:
73 And don't repine at what you now endure,
74 Custom will give you Ease, or Time will cure.
75 Once more consider, that the present Ill,
76 Tho' it be great, may yet be greater still;
77 And be not anxious; for to undergo
78 One Grief, is nothing to a numerous Woe.
79 But since it is impossible to be
80 Human, and not expos'd to Misery,
81 Bear it, my Friend, as bravely as you can;
82 You are not more, and be not less than Man!
83 Afflictions past, can no Existence find,
84 But in the wild Ideas of the Mind:
85 And why should we for those Misfortunes mourn,
86 Which have been suffer'd, and can ne'er return?
87 Those that have weather'd a tempestuous Night,
88 And find a Calm approaching with the Light,
89 Will not, unless their Reason they disown,
90 Still make those Dangers present, that are gone.
91 What is behind the Curtain, none can see;
92 It may be Joy, suppose it Misery. [Page 64]
93 'Tis future still, and that, which is not here,
94 May never come, or we may never bare.
95 Therefore the present Ill, alone we ought
96 To view, in reason, with a troubled Thought:
97 But, if we may the sacred Pages trust,
98 He's always Happy, that is always Just.