« ПредишнаНапред »
Yet vainly most their age in study spend;
No end of writing books, and to no end :
Beating their brains for strange and hidden things,
Whose knowledge, nor delight, nor profit brings;
Themselves with doubt both day and night perplex,
Nor gentle reader please, or teach, but vex.
Books fhould to one of these four ends conduce,
For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.
What need we gaze upon the spangled sky?
Or into matter's hidden caufes pry?
To defcribe every city, ftream, or hill
I' th' world, our fancy with vain arts to fill?
What is 't to hear a fophifter, that pleads,
Who by the ears the deceiv'd audience leads?
If we were wise, these things we should not mind,
But more delight in eafy matters find.
Learn to live well, that thou may'ft die fo too;
To live and die is all we have to do:
The way (if no digreffion 's made) is even,
And free accefs, if we but afk, is given.
Then seek to know those things which make us bleft,
And having found them, lock them in thy breast ;
Enquiring then the way, go on, nor flack,
But mend thy pace, nor think of going back.
Some their whole age in thefe enquiries wafte,
And die like fools before one ftep they 've past;
'Tis strange to know the way, and not t' advance,
That knowledge is far worse than ignorance.
The learned teach, but what they teach, not do;
And standing still themselves, make others go.
In vain on study time away we throw,
When we forbear to act the things we know.
The foldier that philosopher well blam'd,
Who long and loudly in the fchools declaim'd;
Tell (faid the foldier) venerable fir,
Why all these words, this clamour, and this stir ?
Why do difputes in wrangling spend the day?
Whilft one fays only yea, and t'other nay.
Oh, faid the doctor, we for wisdom toil'd,
For which none toils too much: the foldier fmil'd;
You 're grey and old, and to fome pious ufe
This mafs of treafure you fhould now reduce :
But you your ftore have hoarded in fome bank,
For which th' infernal fpirits fhall you thank.
Let what. thou learneft be by practice shown,
'Tis faid that wifdom's children make her known.
What's good doth open to th' enquirer ftand,
And itself offers to th' accepting hand;
All things by order and true measures done,
Wisdom will end, as well as fhe begun.
Let early care thy main concerns fecure,
Things of lefs moment may delays endure:
Men do not for their fervants first prepare,
And of their wives and children quit the care;
Yet when we 're fick, the doctor 's fetcht in hafte,
Leaving our great concernment to the last.
When we are well, our hearts are only fet
(Which way we care not) to be rich, or great;
What fhall become of all that we have got;
We only know that us it follows not;
And what a trifle is a moment's breath,
Laid in the scale with everlasting death!
What's time, when on eternity we think?
A thousand ages in that fea must fink;
Time's nothing but a word, a million
Is full as far from infinite as one.
To whom thou much doft owe, thou much must pay,
Think on the debt against th' accompting-day;
God, who to thee reafon and knowledge lent,
Will ask how these two talents have been spent.
Let not low pleasures thy high reafon blind,
He's mad, that feeks what no man e'er could find.
Why should we fondly please our sense, wherein
Beafts us exceed, nor feel the ftings of fin?
What thoughts man's reafon better can become,
Than th' expectation of his welcome home?
Lords of the world have but for life their leafe,
And that to (if the leffer please) must cease.
Death cancels nature's bonds, but for our deeds
(That debt firft paid) a ftrict account fucceeds;
If here not clear'd, no furetyship can bail
Condemned debtors from th' eternal gaol.
Chrift's blood 's our balfam; if that cure us here,
Him, when our judge, we shall not find severe ;
His yoke is eafy when by us embrac'd,
But loads and galls, if on our necks 'tis caft.
Be juft in all thy actions; and if join'd
With those that are not, never change thy mind:
If aught obftruct thy course, yet stand not still,
But wind about, till you have topp'd the hill;
To the fame end men several paths may tread,
As many doors into one temple lead;
And the fame hand into a fift may close,
Which instantly a palm expanded shows :
Justice and faith never forsake the wife,
Not turning like the wind, but if the state
Of things must change, he is not obftinate;
Things paft, and future, with the prefent weighs,
Nor credulous of what vain rumour fays.
Few things by wisdom are at first believ'd ;
An eafy ear deceives, and is deceiv'd:
For many truths have often past for lies,
And lies as often put on truth's disguise :
As flattery too oft like friendship shows,
So them who fpeak plain truth we think our foes.
No quick reply to dubious questions make,
Sufpence and caution still prevent mistake.
When any great defign thou dost intend,
Think on the means, the manner, and the end :
All great concernments must delays endure;
Rashness and hafte make all things unfecure;
And if uncertain thy pretenfions be,
Stay till fit time wear out uncertainty ;
But if to unjust things thou doft pretend,
Ere they begin let thy pretenfions end.
Let thy discourse be fuch, that thou may'ft give
Profit to others, or from them receive :
Instruct the ignorant; to those that live
Under thy care, good rules and patterns give ;
Nor is 't the least of virtues, to relieve
Thofe whom afflictions or oppreffions grieve.
Commend but fparingly whom thou dost love:
But lefs condemn whom thou doft not approve;
Thy friend, like flattery, too much praise doth wrong,
And too fharp cenfure fhews an evil tongue :
But let inviolate truth be always dear
To thee; e'en before friendship, truth prefer.
Than what thou mean'ft to give, ftill promise lefs :
Hold faft thy power thy promise to increase.
Look forward what 's to come, and back what 's past,
Thy life will be with praise and prudence grac'd :
What lofs or gain may follow, thou may'ft guefs,
Thou then wilt be fecure of the fuccefs;
Yet be not always on affairs intent,
But let thy thoughts be eafy and unbent :
When our minds eyes are difengag'd and free,
They clearer, farther, and distinctly see;
They quicken floth, perplexities unty,
Make roughness smooth, and hardness mollify;
And though our hands from labour are releas'd,
Yet our minds find (ev'n when we fleep) no reft.
Search not to find how other men offend,
But by that glass thy own offences mend;
Still feek to learn, yet care not much from whom,
(So it be learning) or from whence it come.
Of thy own actions, others judgments learn;
Often by fmall, great matters we discern :
Youth, what man's age is like to be, doth show;
We may our ends by our beginnings know.