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ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.
Self-recollection and reproof.-Address to domes.
tic happiness.—Some account of myself.—The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise.—Justification of my censures.Divine illumination
necessary to the most expert philosopher. The question, What is truth? answered by other questions.—Domestic happiness addressed again.-Few lovers of the country.--My tame hare.- Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden.-Pruning.–Framing.-Greenhouse. -Sowing of power-seeds.
The country preferable to the town even in the winter.-Reasons why it is deserted at that season.-Ruinous effects of gaming and of expensive improvement.-Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.
S one who, long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking home ;
Or, having long in miry ways been foil d
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
Plunging, and half despairing of escape ;
If chance at length he find a green-sward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise ;
He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease ;
So I, designing other themes, and call'd
To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have rambled wide. In country, city, seat
Of academic fame (howe'er deserv'd),
Long held, and scarcely disengag'd at last.
But now, with pleasant pace, a cleanlier road
I mean to tread. I feel myself at large,
Courageous, and refresh'd for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding-boards reflect
Most part an empty ineffectual sound,
What chance that i, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or ranners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the satiric thong ? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charmd with rural beauty, to repose,
Where chance may throw me,
beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains ;
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturb'd by folly, and appriz'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or at least confine
Remarks that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust conceal'd
Is Oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has surviv'd the fall !
Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or, tasting, long enjoy thee ; too infirm,
Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect,
Or temper, sheds into thy crystal cup.
Thou art the nurse of virtue-in thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is ador'd,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle, frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding, in the calm of truth-tied love,
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets ; and senates seem
Conven’d for purposes of empire less
Than to release the adultress from her bond.
The adultress! what a theme for angry verse !
What provocation to the indignant heart
That feels for injur'l love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abondon'd, glorying in her shame!
No;-let her pass, and, charioted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now, of character unsmirch'd,
And chaste themselves, are not asham’d to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
75 Not to be pass'd: and she, that had renounc'd Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself By all that priz'd it; not for prudery's sake, But dignity's, resentful of the wrong. 'Twas hard, perhaps, on here and there a waif,
80 Desirous to return, and not receiv'd; But was an wholesome rigour in the main, And taught the unblemish'd to preserve with care That purity, whose loss was loss of all. Men, too, were nice in honour in those days,
85 And judg'd offenders well. Then he that sharp'd, And pocketted a prize by fraud obtain'd, Was mark'd and shunn'd as odious. He that sold His country, or was slack when she requir'd His every nerve in action and at stretch,
90 Paid, with the blood that he had basely spar'd, The price of his default. But now-yes, now, We are become so candid and so fair, So liberal in construction, and so rich In Christian charity, (good-natur'd age!)
95 That they are safe, sinners of either sex, Transgress what laws they may. Well dress'd, well bred, Well equipag’d, is ticket good enough To pass us readily through every door. Hypocrisy, detest her as we niay,
100 (And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet) May claim this merit still that she admits The worth of what she mimics with such care, And thus gives virtue indirect applause; But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
105 Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts And specious semblances have lost their use.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by the archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
115 He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live. Since then, with few associates, in remote And silent woods I wander, far from those