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As much as I could moderately spend ;
A little more, sometimes t'oblige a friend.
Nor should the sons of poverty repine
Too much at fortune, they should taste of mine;
And all that objects of true pity were,
Should be relieved with what my wants could spare;
For that our Maker has too largely given,
Should be return'd in gratitude to Heaven.
A frugal plenty should my table spread,
With healthy, not luxurious, dishes spread;
Enough to satisfy, and something more,
To feed the stranger and the neighbouring poor.
Strong meat indulges vice, and pampering food
Creates diseases and inflames the blood.
But what's sufficient to make nature strong,
And the bright lamp of life continue long,
I'd freely take; and, as I did possess,
The bounteous Author of my plenty bless.
I'd have a little vault, but always stored
With the best wines each vintage could afford.
Wine whets the wit, improves its native force,
And gives a pleasant flavour to discourse;
By making all our spirits debonair,
Throws off the less, the sediment of care.
But as the greatest blessing Heaven lends
May be debauch'd and serve ignoble ends,
So, but too oft, the grape's refreshing juice
Does many mischievous effects produce.
My house should no such rude disorders know,
As from high drinking consequently flow;
Nor would I use what was so kindly given,
To the dishonour of indulgent Heaven.
If any neighbour came, he should be free,
Used with respect, and not uneasy be
In my retreat, or to himself or me.
What freedom, prudence, and right reason gave,
All men may with impunity receive:
But the least swerving from their rule's too much;
For what's forbidden us, 'tis death to touch.
That life may be more comfortable yet, And all my joys refined, sincere, and great, I'd choose two friends, whose company would be A great advance to my felicity : Well-born, of humours suited to my own, Discreet, and men as well as books have known: Brave, generous, witty, and exactly free From loose behaviour or formality : Airy and prudent; merry, but not light; Quick in discerning, and in judging right : Secret they should be, faithful to their trust; In reasoning cool, strong, temperate, and just : Obliging, open: without huffing, brave; Brisk in gay talking, and in sober grave: Close in dispute, but not tenacious; tried By solid reason, and let that decide : Not prone to lust, revenge, or envious hate, Nor busy meddlers with intrigues of state : Strangers to slander, and sworn foes to spite ; Not quarrelsome, but stout enough to fight; Loyal and pious, friends to Cæsar; true As dying martyrs to their Maker too. In their society I could not miss A permanent, sincere, substantial bliss.
Would bounteous Heaven once more indulge, I'd
(For who would so much satisfaction lose, (choose
As witty nymphs in conversation give)
Near some obliging, modest fair to live :
For there's that sweetness in a female mind,
Which in a man's we cannot hope to find;
That, by a secret but a powerful art,
Winds up the spring of life, and does impart
Fresh vital heat to the transported heart.
I'd have her reason all her passion sway:
Easy in company, in private gay ;
Coy to a fop, to the deserving free;
Still constant to herself, and just to me.
A soul she should have for great actions fit;
Prudence and wisdom to direct her wit:
Courage to look bold danger in the face ;
No fear, but only to be proud or base :
Quick to advise, by an emergence press'd,
To give good counsel, or to take the best.
I'd have th' expression of her thoughts be such,
She might not seem reserved, nor talk too much:
That shows a want of judgment and of sense ;
More than enough is but impertinence.
Her conduct regular, mirth refined ;
Civil to strangers, to her neighbours kind;
Averse to vanity, revenge, and pride ;
In all the methods of deceit untried :
So faithful to her friend, and good to all,
No censure might upon her actions fall:
Then would ev'n envy be compellid to say,
She goes the least of womankind astray.
To this fair creature I'd sometimes retire,
Her conversation would new joys inspire;
Give life an edge so keen, no surly care
Would venture to assault my soul, or dare,
Near my retreat, to hide one secret snare.
But so divine, so noble a repast,
I'd seldom, and with moderation, taste:
For highest cordials all their virtue lose,
By a too frequent and too bold a use;
And what would cheer the spirits in distress,
Ruins our health when taken to excess.
I'd be concern'd in no litigious jar;
Beloved by all, not vainly popular.
Whate'er assistance I had power to bring,
T'oblige my country or to serve my king,
Whene'er they call, I'd readily afford
My tongue, my pen, my counsel, or my sword.
Lawsuits I'd shun with as much studious care
As I would dens where hungry lions are;
And rather put up injuries, than be
A plague to him who'd be a plague to me.
I value quiet at a price too great,
To give for my revenge so dear a rate :
For what do we by all our bustle gain,
But counterfeit delight for real pain?
If Heaven a date of many years would give,
Thus I'd in pleasure, ease, and plenty live.
And as I near approach'd the verge of life,
Some kind relation (for I'd have no wife)
Should take upon him all my wordly care,
Whilst I did for a better state prepare.
Then I'd not be with any trouble vex'd,
Nor have the evening of my days perplex'd;
But by a silent and a peaceful death,
Without a sigh, resign my aged breath.
And, when committed to the dust, I'd have
Few tears, but friendly, dropp'd into my grave:
Then would my exit so propitious be,
All men would wish to live and die like me.
THOMAS PARNELL. 1679–1717.
By the blue taper's trembling light
No more I waste the wakeful night,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the sages o’er:
Their books from wisdom widely stray,
Or point at best the longest way.
I'll seek a readier path, and go
Where wisdom's surely taught below.
How deep yon azure dyes the sky!
Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lie,
While through their ranks in silver pride
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe,
The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds, which on the right aspire,
In dimness from the view retire:
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves.
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass with melancholy state
By all the solemn heaps of Fate,
And think, as softly sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
Time was, like thee, they life possess’d,
And time shall be that thou shalt rest.
Those with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbling ground,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose,
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name, The chisel's slender help to fame (Which, ere our set of friends decay, Their frequent steps may wear away), A middle race of mortals own, Men, half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high, Whose dead in vaulted arches lie, Whose pillars swell with sculptured stones, Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones, These, all the poor remains of state, Adorn the rich or praise the great ; Who, while on earth in fame they live, Are senseless of the fame they give. Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades, The bursting earth unveils the shades! All slow, and wan, and wrapp'd with shrouds, They rise in visionary crowds, And all with sober accents cry, “ Think, mortal, what it is to die.”