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Corrupted had the language of the inn,
Where he and his horse litter'd; we begin
To live in silence, when the noise of th' Bench
Not deafens Westminster, nor corrupt French
Walks Fleetstreet in her gown. Ruffs of the Bar,
By the Vacation's power, translated are
To cut work-bands. And who were busy here,
Are gone to sow sedition in the Shire.
The air by this is purg'd; and the Term's strife
Thus fled the city, we the civil life
Lead happily. When in the gentle way
Of noble mirth I have the live-long day
Contracted to a moment, I retire
To my Castara; and meet such a fire
Of mutual love; that if the city were
Infected, that would purify the air."
"To my noblest Friend I. C. Esq.
"I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet
I love the silence; I embrace the wit
And courtship, flowing here in a full tide,
But loath the expence, the vanity, and pride.
No place each way is happy. Here I hold
Commerce with some, who to my ear unfold,
(After a due oath minister'd) the height
And greatness of each star shines in the state;
The brightness, the eclipse, the influence.
With others I commune, who tell me whence
The torrent doth of foreign discord flow;
Relate each skirmish, battle, overthrow,
Soon as they happen; and by rote can tell
Those German towns, e'en puzzle me to spell.
The cross or prosperous fate of Princes they
Ascribe to rashness, cunning, or delay;
And on each action comment with more skill,
Than upon Livy did old Machiavil.
O busy folly! Why do I my brain
Perplex with the dull policies of Spain,
Or quick designs of France? Why not repair
To the pure innocence o' th' country air;
And neighbour thee, dear friend; who so dost give
Thy thoughts to worth and virtue, that to live
Blest is to trace thy ways? There might not we
Arm against passion with philosophy;
And by the aid of leisure so controul
Whate'er is earth in us, to grow all soul?
Knowledge doth ignorance engender, when
We study mysteries of other men,
And foreign plots. Do but in thy own shade,
(Thy head upon some flowery pillow laid
Kind Nature's housewifery) contemplate all
His stratagems, who labours to enthrall
The world to his great master; and you'll find
Ambition mocks itself, and grasps the wind.
Not conquest makes us great. Blood is too dear
A price for glory: Honour doth appear
To statesmen like a vision in the night;
And juggler-like works o' th' deluded sight:
The unbusied only wise; for no respect
Endangers them to error; they affect
Truth in her naked beauty, and behold
Man with an equal eye; not fraught in gold
Or tall in title; so much him they weigh,
As virtue raiseth him above his clay.
Thus let us value things; and since we find
Time bends us towards death, let's in our mind
Create new youth, and arm against the rude
Assaults of age; that no dull solitude
Of th' country dead our thoughts; nor busy care,
O' th' town make us not think, where now we are,
And whither we are bound. Time ne'er forgot
His journey, though his steps we number'd not."
"To the Rt. Honourable Archibald Earl of Argyle.
your example be obey'd,
The serious few will live i' th' silent shade;
And not endanger by the wind,
Or sunshine the complexion of their mind;
Whose beauty wears so clear a skin,
That it decays with the least taint of sin.
Vice grows by custom, nor dare we
Reject it as a slave, where it breathes free;
And is no privilege denied;
Nor, if advanced to higher place, envied.
Wherefore your Lordship in yourself
(Nor launch'd far in the main, nor nigh the shelf
Of humbler fortune) lives at ease,
Safe from the rocks o' the shore, and stars o' th' seas.
Your soul's a well-built city, where
There's such munitions, that no war breeds fear:
No rebels wild distractions move;
For you the heads have crush'd; Rage, Envy, Love;
And therefore you defiance bid
To open enmity, or mischief hid
In fawning hate and supple pride,
Who are on every corner fortified.
Your youth, not rudely led by rage Of blood, is now the story of your age, Which without boast you may aver, 'Fore blackest danger glory did prefer ;
Glory, not purchas'd by the breath
Of sycophants, but by encountering death.
Yet wildness, nor the fear of laws
Did make you fight, but justice of the cause;
For but mad prodigals they are
Of fortitude, who for itself love war.
When well-made peace had clos'd the
Of Discord, Sloth did not your youth surprise.
Your life as well as power did awe
The bad, and to the good was the best law;
When most men virtue did pursue,
In hope by it to grow in fame like you.
Nor when you did to court repair,
you your manners alter with the air.
You did your modesty retain,
Your faithful dealing, the same tongue and brain,
Nor did all the soft flattery there
Inchant you so, but still you truth could hear.
And though your roofs were richly gilt,
The basis was on no ward's ruin built.
Nor were your vassals made a prey,
And forc'd to curse the coronation day.
And though no bravery was known
To outshine yours, you only spent your own.
For 'twas the indulgence of fate
To give y' a moderate mind and bounteous state.
But I, my Lord, who have no friend
Of fortune, must begin where you do end.
'Tis dang❜rous to approach the fire
Of action, nor is't safe for to retire;
Yet better lost i' th' multitude
Of private men, than on the state t'intrude,
And hazard for a doubtful smile
My stock of fame, and inward peace to spoil.
I'll therefore nigh some murmuring brook,
That wantons thro' my meadows, with a book
With my Castara, or some friend,
My youth not guilty of ambition spend !
To my own shade, if Fate permit,
I'll whisper some soft music of my wit;
And flatter so myself, I'll see,
By that, strange motion steal into the tree.
But still my first and chiefest care
Shall be t' appease offended heaven with prayer';
And in such mould my thoughts to cast,
That each day shall be spent as 'twere my last.
Howe'er its sweet lust to obey,
Virtue, tho' rugged, is the safest way."*
April 10, 1808.
No. XXXIII. Rank, and riches, and ease of heart, not favourable to intellectual exertion.
"Sed quæ Tibur æquæ fertile perfluunt,
Et spissæ nemorum comæ
Fingent Æolio carmine nobilem."
It seems as if prosperity, rank, and riches have not been well calculated to produce energetic exertions of the mind. The number of peers in this country who have aspired to the fame of poets has been very small. The list may be almost limited to the following. The Earl of Surrey, Lords Vaux and Rochford, Lord Buckhurst, Lord Brooke, the Earls of Rochester and Roscommon, the Duke of Buck
* A very different character of Lord Argyle, is insinuated in this poem, from that which has been drawn by Lord Clarendon.