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Try all the bounties of this fertile globe,
There is not such a salutary food
As suits with every stomach. But (except,
Amid the mingled mass of fish and fowl,
And boil'd and bak'd, you hesitate by which
You sunk oppress'd, or whether not by all ;)
Taught by experience, soon you may discern
What pleases, what offends. Avoid the cates
That lull the sicken'd appetite too long;
Or heave with fev'rish flushings all the face,
Burn in the palms, and parch the rough'ning tongue;
Or much diminish, or too much increase
Th' expense which nature's wise economy,
Without or waste or avarice, maintains.
Such cates abjur'd, let prowling hunger loose,
And bid the curious palate roam at will;
They scarce can err amid the various stores,
That burst the teeming entrails of the world.
Led by sagacious taste, the ruthless king
Of beasts on blood and slaughter only lives;
The tyger, form'd alike to cruel meals,
Would at the manger starve: of milder feed
The generous horse to herbage and to grain
Confines his wish; though fabling Greece resound
The Thracian steeds with human carnage wild.
Prompted by instinct's never-erring power,
Each creature knows its proper aliment;
But man, th' inhabitant of every clime,
With all the commoners of nature feeds.
Directed, bounded, by this power within,
Their cravings are well-aim'd: voluptuous man
Is by superior faculties misled;
Misled from pleasure, even in quest of joy.
Sated with nature's boons, what thousands seek,
With dishes tortur'd from their native taste,
And mad variety, to spur beyond
Its wiser will the jaded appetite!
Is this for pleasure? Learn a juster taste;
And know that temperance is true luxury.
Or is it pride? Pursue some nobler aim;
Dismiss your parasites, who praise for hire,
And earn the fair esteem of honest men,
Whose praise is fame. Form'd of such clay as yours,
The sick, the needy shiver at your gates.
Even modest want may bless your hand unseen,
Though hush'd in patient wretchedness at home.
Is there no virgin grac'd with every charm,
But that which binds the mercenary vow?
No youth of genius, whose neglected bloom,
Unfoster'd, sickens in the barren shade?
No worthy man by fortune's random blows,
Or by a heart too generous and humane,
Constrain'd to leave his happy natal seat,
And sigh for wants more bitter than his own?
There are, while human miseries abound,
A thousand ways to waste superfluous wealth,
Without one fool or flatterer at your board,
Without one hour of sickness or disgust.
But other ills th' ambiguous feast pursue,
Besides provoking the lascivious taste.
Such various foods, though harmless each alone,
Each other violate; and oft we see
What strife is brew'd, and what pernicious bane,
From combinations of innoxious things.
Th' unbounded taste I mean not to confine
To hermit's diet, needlessly severe.
But would you long the sweets of health enjoy,
Or husband pleasure, at one impious meal
Exhaust not half the bounties of the year,
Of every realm. It matters not, meanwhile,
How much to-morrow differ from to-day;
So far indulge: 'tis fit, besides, that man,
To change obnoxious, be to change inur'd.
But stay the curious appetite, and taste
With caution fruits you never tried before.
For want of use the kindest aliment
Sometimes offends; while custom tames the rage
Of poison to mild amity with life.
So Heav'n has form'd us to the general taste
Of all its gifts; so custom has improv'd
This bent of nature; that few simple foods,
Of all that earth, or air, or ocean yield,
But by excess offend. Beyond the sense
Of light refection, at the genial board
Indulge not often; nor protract the feast
To dull satiety; till soft and slow
A drowsy death creeps on, th' expansive soul
Oppress'd, and smother'd the celestial fire.
The stomach, urg'd beyond its active tone,
Hardly to nutrimental chyle subdues
The softest food: unfinish'd and deprav'd,
The chyle, in all its future wanderings, owns
Its turbid fountain; not by purer streams
So to be clear'd, but foulness will remain.
To sparkling wine what ferment can exalt
Th' unripen'd grape? Or what mechanic skill,
From the crude ore, can spin the ductile gold?
Gross riot treasures up a wealthy fund Of plagues: but more immedicable ills Attend the lean extreme. For physic knows How to disburden the too tumid veins; Even how to ripen the half-labour'd blood: But to unlock the elemental tubes, Collaps'd and shrunk with long inanity, And with balsamic nutriment repair The dried and worn-out habit, were to bid Old age grow green, and wear a second spring; Or the tall ash, long ravish'd from the soil, Through wither'd veins imbibe the vernal dew. When hunger calls, obey; ; nor often wait Till hunger sharpen to corrosive pain: For the keen appetite will feast beyond What nature well can bear; and one extreme Ne'er without danger meets its own reverse. Too greedily th' exhausted veins absorb The recent chyle, and load enfeebled powers Oft to th' extinction of the vital flame. To the pale cities, by the firm-set siege And famine humbled, may this verse be borte. And hear, ye hardiest sons that Albion breeds. Long toss'd and famish'd on the wint'ry main; The war shook off, or hospitable shore
Attain'd, with temperance bear the shock of joy;
Nor crown with festive rites th' auspicious day;
Such feast might prove more fatal than the waves,
Than war or famine. While the vital fire
Burns feebly, heap not the green fuel on;
But prudently foment the wandering spark
With what the soonest feeds its kindred touch:
Be frugal ev'n of that: a little give
At first; that kindled, add a little more;
Till, by deliberate nourishing, the flame
Reviv'd, with all its wonted vigour glows.
But though the two (the full and the jejune)
Extremes have each their vice; it much avails
Ever with gentle tide to ebb and flow
From this to that: so nature learns to bear
Whatever chance or headlong appetite
May bring. Besides, a meagre day subdues
The cruder clods by sloth or luxury
Collected, and unloads the wheels of life.
Sometimes a coy aversion to the feast
Comes on, while yet no blacker omen lowers;
Then is a time to shun the tempting board,
Were it your natal or your nuptial day.
Perhaps a fast so seasonable starves
The latent seeds of woe, which, rooted once,
Might cost you labour. But the day return'd
Of festal luxury, the wise indulge
Most in the tender vegetable breed:
Then chiefly, when the summer beams inflame
The brazen heavens; or angry Sirius sheds
A feverish taint through the still gulf of air.
The moist cool viands then, and flowing cup,
From the fresh dairy virgin's liberal hand, [world
Will save your head from harm, though round the
The dreaded Causos roll his wasteful fires.
Pale humid winter loves the generous board,
The meal more copious, and a warmer fare:
And longs, with old wood and old wine, to cheer
His quaking heart. The seasons which divide
Th' empires of heat and cold (by neither claim'd,
Influenc'd by both), a middle regimen
Impose. Through autumn's languishing domain
Descending, nature by degress invites
To glowing luxury. But from the depth
Of winter, when th' invigorated year
Emerges; when Favonius flush'd with love,
Toyful and young, in every breeze descends
More warm and wanton on his kindling bride;
Then, shepherds, then begin to spare your flocks;
And learn, with wise humanity, to check
The lust of blood. Now pregnant earth commits
A various offspring to th' indulgent sky:
Now bounteous nature feeds with lavish hand
The prone creation; yields what once suffic'd
Their dainty sovereign, when the world was young:
Ere yet the barbarous thirst of blood had seiz'd
The human breast.-Each rolling month matures
The food that suits it most: so does each clime.
Far in the horrid realms of winter, where
Th' establish'd ocean heaps a monstrous waste
Of shining rocks and mountains to the pole;
There lives a hardy race, whose plainest wants
Relentless earth, their cruel stepmother,
Regards not. On the waste of iron fields,
Untam'd, untractable, no harvests wave:
Pomona hates them, and the clownish god
Who tends the garden. In this frozen world
Such cooling gifts were vain: a fitter meal
Is earn'd with ease; for here the fruitful spawn
Of ocean swarms, and heaps their genial board
With generous fare and luxury profuse.
These are their bread, the only bread they know;
These, and their willing slave the deer that crops
The shrubby herbage on their meagre hills.
Girt by the burning zone, not thus the south
Her swarthy sons in either Ind maintains:
Or thirsty Libya; from whose fervid loins
The lion bursts, and every fiend that roams
Th' affrighted wilderness. The mountain herd,
Adust and dry, no sweet repast affords:
Nor does the tepid main such kinds produce,
So perfect, so delicious, as the shoals
Of icy Zembla. Rashly where the blood
Brews feverish frays; where scarce the tubes sustain
Its tumid fervour and tempestuous course;
Kind nature tempts not to such gifts as these.
But here in livid ripeness melts the grape :
Here, finish'd by invigorating suns,
Through the green shade the golden orange glows;
Spontaneous here the turgid melon yields
A generous pulp: the cocoa swells on high
With milky riches; and in horrid mail
The crisp ananas wraps its poignant sweets,
Earth's vaunted progeny: in ruder air
Too coy to flourish, even too proud to live;
Or hardly rais'd by artificial fire
To vapid life. Here with a mother's smile
Glad Amalthea pours her copious horn.
Here buxom Ceres reigns: th' autumnal sea
In boundless billows fluctuates o'er their plains.
What suits the climate best, what suits the men,
Nature profuses most, and most the taste
Demands. The fountain, edg'd with racy wine
Or acid fruit, bedews their thirsty souls.
The breeze eternal breathing round their limbs
Supports in else intolerable air:
While the cool palm, the plaintain, and the grove
That waves on gloomy Lebanon, assuage
The torrid hell that beams upon their heads.
Now come, ye Naiads, to the fountains lead; Now let me wander through your gelid reign. I burn to view th' enthusiastic wilds By mortal else untrod. I hear the din Of waters thund'ring o'er the ruin'd cliffs. With holy reverence I approach the rocks, Whence glide the streams renown'd in ancient song. Here from the desert down the rumbling steep First springs the Nile; here bursts the sounding Po In angry waves; Euphrates hence devolves A mighty flood to water half the east; And there, in Gothic solitude reclin'd, The cheerless Tanais pours his hoary urn. What solemn twilight! What stupendous shades Enwrap these infant floods! Through every nerve A sacred horror thrills, a pleasing fear Glides o'er my frame. The forest deepens round;
And more gigantic still th' impending trees
Stretch their extravagant arms athwart the gloom.
Are these the confines of some fairy world?
A land of genii? Say, beyond these wilds
What unknown nations ?-if indeed beyond
Aught habitable lies. And whither leads,
To what strange regions, or of bliss or pain,
That subterraneous way? Propitious maids,
Conduct me, while with fearful steps I tread
This trembling ground. The task remains to sing
Your gifts (so Pæon, so the powers of health
Command) to praise your crystal element:
The chief ingredient in heaven's various works;
Whose flexile genius sparkles in the gem,
Grows firm in oak, and fugitive in wine;
The vehicle, the source, of nutriment
And life, to all that vegetate or live.
O comfortable streams! With eager lips
And trembling hand the languid thirsty quaff
New life in you; fresh vigour fills their veins.
No warmer cups the rural ages knew;
None warmer sought the sires of human kind.
Happy in temperate peace! Their equal days
Felt not th' alternate fits of feverish mirth,
And sick dejection. Still serene and pleas'd,
They knew no pains but what the tender soul
With pleasure yields to, and would ne'er forget.
Blest with divine immunity from ails,
Long centuries they liv'd; their only fate
Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death.
Oh! could those worthies from the world of gods
Return to visit their degenerate sons,
How would they scorn the joys of modern time,
With all our art and toil improv'd to pain!
Too happy they! but wealth brought luxury,
And luxury on sloth begot disease.
Learn temperance, friends; and hear without
The choice of water. Thus the Coan sage
Opin'd, and thus the learn'd of every school.
What least of foreign principles partakes
Is best: The lightest then; what bears the touch
Of fire the least, and soonest mounts in air;
The most insipid; the most void of smell.
Such the rude mountain from his horrid sides
Pours down; such waters in the sandy vale
For ever boil, alike of winter frosts
And summer's heat secure. The crystal stream,
Through rocks resounding, or for many a mile
O'er the chaf'd pebbles hurl'd, yields wholesome,
Aud mellow draughts; except when winter thaws,
And half the mountains melt into the tide.
Though thirst were e'er so resolute, avoid
The sordid lake, and all such drowsy floods
As fill from Lethe Belgia's slow canals;
(With rest corrupt, with vegetation green;
Squalid with generation, and the birth
Of little monsters ;) till the power of fire
Has from profane embraces disengag'd
The violated lymph. The virgin stream
In boiling wastes its finer soul in air.
Nothing like simple element dilutes
The food, or gives the chyle so soon to flow.
But where the stomach, indolent and cold,
Toys with its duty, animate with wine
Th' insipid stream: though golden Ceres yields
A more voluptuous, a more sprightly draught;
Perhaps more active. Wines unmix'd, and all
The gluey floods that from the vex'd abyss
Of fermentation spring; with spirit fraught,
And furious with intoxicating fire;
Retard concoction, and preserve unthaw'd
Th' embodied mass. You see what countless years,
Embalm'd in fiery quintessence of wine,
The puny wonders of the reptile world,
The tender rudiments of life, the slim
Unravellings of minute anatomy,
Maintain their texture, and unchang'd remain.
We curse not wine: the vile excess we blame;
More fruitful than th' accumulated board
Of pain and misery. For the subtle draught
Faster and surer swells the vital tide;
And with more active poison, than the floods
Of grosser crudity convey, pervades
The far remote meanders of our frame.
Ah! sly deceiver! Branded o'er and o'er,
Yet still believ'd! Exulting o'er the wreck
Of sober vows!-But the Parnasian maids
Another time perhaps shall sing the joys,
The fatal charms, the many woes of wine;
Perhaps its various tribes, and various powers.
Meantime, I would not always dread the bowl,
Nor every trespass shun. The feverish strife,
Rous'd by the rare debauch, subdues, expels
The loitering crudities that burden life;
And, like a torrent full and rapid, clears
Th' obstructed tubes. Besides, this restless world
Is full of chances, which by habit's power
To learn to bear is easier than to shun.
Ah! when ambition, meagre love of gold,
Or sacred country calls, with mellowing wine
To moisten well the thirsty suffrages;
Say how, unseason'd to the midnight frays
Of Comus and his rout, wilt thou contend
With Centaurs long to hardy deeds inur'd?
Then learn to revel; but by slow degrees:
By slow degrees the liberal arts are won;
And Hercules grew strong. But when you smooth
The brows of care, indulge your festive vein
In cups by well-inform'd experience found
The least your bane: and only with your friends.
There are sweet follies; frailties to be seen
By friends alone, and men of generous minds.
Oh! seldom may the fated hours return Of drinking deep! I would not daily taste, Except when life declines, even sober cups. Weak withering age no rigid law forbids, With frugal nectar, smooth and slow with balm, The sapless habit daily to bedew, And give the hesitating wheels of life Gliblier to play. But youth has better joys: And is it wise when youth with pleasure flows, To squander the reliefs of age and pain!
What dextrous thousands, just within the goal
Of wild debauch, direct their nightly course!
Perhaps no sickly qualms bedim their days,
No morning admonitions shock the head.
But ah! what woes remain! Life rolls apace,
And that incurable disease old age,
In youthful bodies more severely felt,
More sternly active, shakes their blasted prime:
Except kind nature by some hasty blow
Prevent the lingering fates. For know, whate'er
Beyond its natural fervour hurries on
The sanguine tide; whether the frequent bowl,
High-season'd fare, or exercise to toil
Protracted; spurs to its last stage tir'd life,
And sows the temples with untimely snow.
When life is new, the ductile fibres feel
The heart's increasing force; and, day by day,
The growth advances: till the larger tubes,
Acquiring (from their elemental veins,
Condens'd to solid chords) a firmer tone,
Sustain, and just sustain, th' impetuous blood.
Here stops the growth. With overbearing pulse
And pressure, still the great destroy the small;
Still with the ruins of the small grow strong.
Life glows mean time; amid the grinding force
Of viscous fluids and elastic tubes,
Its various functions vigorously are plied
By strong machinery; and in solid health
The man confirm'd long triumphs o'er disease.
But the full ocean ebbs: there is a point,
By nature fix'd, whence life must downward tend.
For still the beating tide consolidates
The stubborn vessels, more reluctant still
To the weak throbs of th' ill-supported heart.
This languishing, these strength'ning by degrees
To hard, unyielding, unelastic bone,
Through tedious channels the congealing flood
Crawls lazily, and hardly wanders on;
It loiters still and now it stirs no more.
This is the period few attain; the death
Of nature; thus (so heav'n ordain'd it) life
Destroys itself; and could these laws have chang'd,
Nestor might now the fates of Troy relate;
And Homer live immortal as his song.
What does not fade? The tower that long had The crush of thunder and the warring winds, Shook by the slow but sure destroyer time, Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base. And flinty pyramids, and walls of brass, Descend: the Babylonian spires are sunk; Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down. Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones, And tottering empires crush by their own weight. This huge rotundity we tread grows old; And all those worlds that roll around the sun, The sun himself, shall die; and ancient night Again involve the desolate abyss: Till the great Father through the lifeless gloom Extend his arm to light another world, And bid new planets roll by other laws. For through the regions of unbounded space, Where unconfin'd Omnipotence has room, Being, in various systems, fluctuates still
Between creation and abhorr'd decay:
It ever did; perhaps and ever will.
New worlds are still emerging from the deep;
The old descending, in their turns to rise.
Through various toils th' adventurous Muse has past;
But half the toil, and more than half, remains.
Rude is her theme, and hardly fit for song;
Plain, and of little ornament; and I
But little practis'd in th' Aonian arts.
Yet not in vain such labours have we tried,
If aught these lays the fickle health confirm.
To you, ye delicate, I write; for you
I tame my youth to philosophic cares,
And grow still paler by the midnight lamp.
Not to debilitate with timorous rules
A hardy frame; nor needlessly to brave
Inglorious dangers, proud of mortal strength;
Is all the lesson that in wholesome years
Concerns the strong. His care were ill bestow'd
Who would with warm effeminacy nurse
The thriving oak, which on the mountain's brow
Bears all the blasts that sweep the wint'ry heav'n.
Behold the labourer of the glebe, who toils
In dust, in rain, in cold and sultry skies;
Save but the grain from mildews and the flood,
Nought anxious he what sickly stars ascend.
He knows no laws by Esculapius given;
He studies none.
Yet him nor midnight fogs
Infest, nor those envenom'd shafts that fly
When rabid Sirius fires th' autumnal noon.
His habit pure with plain and temperate meals,
Robust with labour, and by custom steel'd
To every casualty of varied life;
Serene he bears the peevish eastern blast,
And uninfected breathes the mortal south.
Such the reward of rude and sober life; Of labour such. By health the peasant's toil Is well repaid; if exercise were pain. Indeed, and temperance pain. By arts like these Laconia nurs'd of old her hardy sons; And Rome's unconquer'd legions urg'd their way, Unhurt, through every toil in every clime.
Toil, and be strong. By toil the flaccid nerves Grow firm, and gain a more compacted tone; The greener juices are by toil subdu'd, Mellow'd, and subtiliz'd; the vapid old Expell'd, and all the rancour of the blood. Come, my companions, ye who feel the charms Of nature and the year; come, let us stray Where chance or fancy leads our roving walk: Come, while the soft voluptuous breezes fan The fleecy heavens, enwrap the limbs in balm, And shed a charming languor o'er the soul. Nor when bright winter sows with prickly frost The vigorous ether, in unmanly warmth Indulge at home; nor even when Eurus' blasts This way and that convolve the lab'ring woods. My liberal walks, save when the skies in rain Or fogs relent, no season should confine
Or to the cloister'd gallery or arcade.
Go, climb the mountain; from th' ethereal source
Imbibe the recent gale. The cheerful morn
Beams o'er the hills; go mount th' exulting steed.
Already, see, the deep-mouth'd beagles catch
The tainted mazes; and, on eager sport
Intent with emulous impatience try
Each doubtful trace. Or, if a nobler prey
Delight you more, go chase the desperate deer;
And through its deepest solitudes awake
The vocal forest with the jovial horn.
But if the breathless chase o'er hill and dale
Exceed your strength; a sport of less fatigue,
Not less delightful the prolific stream
Affords. The crystal rivulet, that o'er
A stony channel rolls its rapid maze,
Swarms with the silver fry. Such, through the bounds
Of pastoral Stafford, runs the brawling Trent;
Such Eden, sprung from Cumbrian mountains; such
The Esk, o'erhung with woods; and such the stream
On whose Arcadian banks I first drew air,
Liddal; till now, except in Doric lays
Tun'd to her murmurs by her love-sick swains,
Unknown in song: though not a purer stream,
Through meads more flowery or more romantic
Rolls toward the western main. Hail, sacred flood!
May still thy hospitable swains be blest
In rural innocence; thy mountains still
Teem with the fleecy race; thy tuneful woods
For ever flourish; and thy vales look gay
With painted meadows, and the golden grain!
Oft with thy blooming sons, when life was new,
Sportive and petulant, and charm'd with toys,
In thy transparent eddies have I lav'd:
Oft trac'd with patient steps thy fairy banks,
With the well-imitated fly to hook
The eager trout, and with the slender line
And yielding rod solicit to the shore
The struggling panting prey; while vernal clouds
And tepid gales obscur'd the ruffled pool,
And from the deeps call'd forth the wanton swarms.
Form'd on the Samian school, or those of Ind,
There are who think these pastimes scarce humane.
Yet in my mind (and not relentless I)
His life is pure that wears no fouler stains.
But if through genuine tenderness of heart,
Or secret want of relish for the game,
You shun the glories of the chase, nor care
To haunt the peopled stream; the garden yields
A soft amusement, an humane delight.
To raise th' insipid nature of the ground;
Or tame its savage genius to the grace
Of careless sweet rusticity, that seems
The amiable result of happy chance,
Is to create; and gives a godlike joy,
Which every year improves. Nor thou disdain
To check the lawless riot of the trees,
To plant the grove, or turn the barren mould.
O happy he! whom, when his years decline,
(His fortune and his fame by worthy means
Attain'd and equal to his moderate mind;
His life approv'd by all the wise and good,
Even envied by the vain) the peaceful groves
Of Epicurus, from this stormy world,
Receive to rest; of all ungrateful cares
Absolv'd, and sacred from the selfish crowd.
Happiest of men! if the same soil invites
A chosen few, companions of his youth,
Once fellow-rakes perhaps, now rural friends;
With whom in easy commerce to pursue
Nature's free charms, and vie for sylvan fame:
A fair ambition; void of strife or guile,
Or jealousy, or pain to be outdone.
Who plans th' enchanted garden, who directs
The visto best, and best conducts the stream;
Whose groves the fastest thicken and ascend;
Whom first the welcome spring salutes; who shows
The earliest bloom, the sweetest proudest charms
Of Flora; who best gives Pomona's juice
To match the sprightly genius of champaign.
Thrice happy days! in rural business past:
Blest winter nights! when as the genial fire
Cheers the wide hall, his cordial family
With soft domestic arts the hours beguile,
And pleasing talk that starts no timorous fame,
With witless wantonness to hunt it down:
Or through the fairy land of tale or song
Delighted wander, in fictitious fates
Engag'd and all that strikes humanity:
Till lost in fable, they the stealing hour
Of timely rest forget. Sometimes at eve
His neighbours lift the latch, and bless unbid
His festal roof; while, o'er the light repast,
And sprightly cups, they mix in social joy;
And, through the maze of conversation, trace
Whate'er amuses or improves the mind.
Sometimes at eve (for I delight to taste
The native zest and flavour of the fruit,
Where sense grows wild and takes of no manure)
The decent, honest, cheerful husbandman
Should drown his labours in my friendly bowl;
And at my table find himself at home.
Whate'er you study, in whate'er you sweat,
Indulge your taste. Some love the manly foils;
The tennis some; and some the graceful dance.
Others more hardy, range the purple heath,
Or naked stubble; where from field to field
The sounding coveys urge their labouring flight;
Eager amid the rising cloud to pour
The gun's unerring thunder: and there are
Whom still the meed of the green archer charms.
He chooses best, whose labour entertains
His vacant fancy most: the toil you hate
Fatigues you soon, and scarce improves your limbs.
As beauty still has blemish; and the mind
The most accomplish'd its imperfect side;
Few bodies are there of that happy mould
But some one part is weaker than the rest:
The legs, perhaps, or arms refuse their load,
Or the chest labours. These assiduously,
But gently, in their proper arts employ'd,
Acquire a vigour and springy activity