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Mark well the finish'd plan without a fault,
Anticipated rents, and bills unpaid, Force many a shining youth into the shade, 560 Not to redeem his time, but his estate, And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate. There, hid in loth'd obscurity, remov'd From pleasures left, but never more belov'd, He just endures, and with a sickly spleen
565 Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene ; Nature indeed looks prettily in rhyme ; Streams tinkle sweetly in poetick chime ; The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong, Are musical enough in Thomson's song ;
570 An Cobham's groves, and Windsor's green retreats, When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets ; He likes the country, but in truth must own, Most likes it, when he studies it in town.
Poor Jack, no matter who—for when I blame, 575 I pity, and must therefore sink the name, Liv'd in his saddle, lov'd the chace, the course, And always, ere he mounted, kiss'd his horse. The estate his sires had own'd in ancient years, Was quickly distanc'd, match'd against a peer's. 580 Jack vanish'd, was regretted and forgot ; 'Tis wild good nature's never-failing lot. At length, when all had long suppos’d him dead, By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead, My lord, alighting at his usual place,
585 The Crown, took notice of an ostler's face. Jack knew his friend, but hop'd in that disguise He might escape the most observing eyes;
And whistling, as if unconcern'd and gay,
600 But knew no medium between guzzling beer, And his old stint--three thousand pounds a year.
Thus some retire to nourish hopeless wo: Some seeking happiness not found below; Some to comply with humour, and a mind
Lucrative offices are seldom lost
620 'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place, But not to manage leisure with a grace ; Absence of occupation is not rest, A mind quite vacant is a mind distress d. The vet’ran steed, excus'd his task at length, In kind compassion of his failing strength,
And turn'd into the park or mead to graze,
640 Nor yet the swarms that occupy the brain, Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign; Nor such as useless conversation breeds, Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds. Whence, and what are we? to what end ordain'd : 645 What means the drama by the world sustain'd ? Business or vain amusement, care or mirth, Divide the frail inhabitants of earth. Is duty a niere sport, or an employ? Life an intrusted talent, or a toy ?
650 Is there, as reason, conscience, Scripture say, Cause to provide for a great future day, When earth's assign'd duration at an end, Man shall be summon'd and the dead attend ? The trumpet-will it sound ? the curtain rise ?
655 And show the august tribunal of the skies, Where no prevarication shall avail, Where eloquence and artifice shall fail, The pride of arrogant distinctions fall, And conscience and our conduct judge us all ? 660 Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil To learned cares of philosophick toil, Though I revere your honourable names, Your useful labours and important aims,
And hold the world indebted to your aid,
665 Enrich'd with the discov’ries ye have made ; Yet let me stand excus'd, if I esteem A mind employ'd on so sublime a theme, Pushing her bold inquiry to the date And outline of the present transient state, 670 And after poising her advent'rous wings, Settling at last upon eternal things, Far more intelligent, and better taught The strenuous use of profitable thought, Than ye, when happiest, and enlighten'd most, 675 And highest in renown, can justly boast.
A mind unnerv’d, or indispos’d to bear The weight of subjects worthiest of her care, Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires, Must change her nature, or in vain retires. 680 An idler is a watch that wants both hands; As useless if it goes, as when it stands. Books, therefore, not the scandal of the shelves, In which lewd sensualists print out themselves ; Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow, 685 With what success let modern manners show; Nor his, who, for the bane of thousands born, Built God a church, and laugh’d his word to scorn, Skilful alike to seem devout and just, And stab religion with a sly șide-thrust;
690 Nor those of learned philologists, who chase A panting syllable through time and space, Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark, To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark; But such as learning without false pretence,
695 The friend of truth, th' associate of good sense. And such as, in the zeal of good design, Strong judgment lab'ring in the Scripture mine, All such as manly and great souls produce, Worthy to live, and of eternal use ;
700 Behold in these what leisure hours demand, Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
715 Should turn to writers of an abler sort, Whose wit well manag'd, and whose classick style, Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile. Friends, (for I cannot stint, as some have done, Too rigid in my view, that name to one ;
720 Though one, I grant it, in the gen’rous breast Will stand advanc'd a step above the rest; Flow’rs by that name promiscuously we call, But one, the rose, the regent of them all,) Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste, 725 But chosen with a nice discerning taste, Well born, well disciplin'd, who, plac'd apart From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, And though the world may think the ingredients odd, The love of virtue, and the fear of God!
730 Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, A temper rustick as the life we lead, And keep the polish of the manners clean, As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene ; For solitude, however some may rave,
735 Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave, A sepulchre, in which the living lie, Where all good qualities grow sick and die.