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Where war grows hot; and, raging through the sky,
The lofty trumpet swells the madd'ning soul:
And in the hardy camp and toilsome march
Forget all softer and less manly cares.
But most too passive, when the blood runs low,
Too weakly indolent to strive with pain,
And bravely by resisting conquer fate,
Try Circe's arts; and in the tempting bowl
Of poison'd nectar sweet oblivion swill.
Struck by the pow'rful charm, the gloom dissolves
In empty air; Elysium opens round,
A pleasing phrenzy buoys the lighten'd soul,
And sanguine hopes dispel your fleeting care;
And what was difficult, and what was dire,
Yields to your prowess and superior stars:
The happiest you of all that e'er were mad,
Or are, or shall be, could this folly last.
But soon your heaven is gone: a heavier gloom
Shuts o'er your head: and, as the thund'ring stream,
Swoln o'er its banks with sudden mountain rain,
Sinks from its tumult to a silent brook;
So, when the frantic raptures in your breast
Subside, you languish into mortal man;
You sleep, and waking find yourself undone.
For prodigal of life in one rash night
You lavish'd more than might support three days.
A heavy morning comes; your cares return
With tenfold rage. An anxious stomach well
May be endur'd; so may the throbbing head:
But such a dim delirium, such a dream,
Involves you; such a dastardly despair
Unmans your soul, as madd'ning Pentheus felt,
When, baited round Citharon's cruel sides,
He saw two suns, and double Thebes ascend.
You curse the sluggish port; you curse the wretch,
The felon, with unnatural mixture first
Who dar'd to violate the virgin wine.
Or on the fugitive champaign you pour
A thousand curses; for to heav'n it rapt
Your soul, to plunge you deeper in despair.
Perhaps you rue even that divinest gift,
The gay, serene, good-natur'd Burgundy,
Or the fresh fragrant vintage of the Rhine:
And wish that heaven from mortals had withheld
The grape, and all intoxicating bowls.
Besides, it wounds you sore to recollect
What follies in your loose unguarded hour
Escap'd. For one irrevocable word,
Perhaps that meant no harm, you lose a friend.
Or, in the rage of wine, your hasty hand
Performs a deed to haunt you to the grave.
Add that your means, your health, your parts decay;
Your friends avoid you; brutishly transform'd,
They hardly know you; or if one remains
To wish you well, he wishes you in heaven.
Despis'd, unwept you fall, who might have left
A sacred, cherish'd, sadly-pleasing name;
A name still to be utter'd with a sigh.
Your last ungraceful scene has quite effac'd
All sense and memory of your former worth.
How to live happiest; how avoid the pains,
The disappointments, and disgusts of those
Who would in pleasure all their hours employ;
The precepts here of a divine old man
I could recite. Though old, he still retain'd
His manly sense, and energy of mind.
Virtuous and wise he was, but not severe;
He still remember'd that he once was young;
His easy presence check'd no decent joy.
Him even the dissolute admir'd, for he
A graceful looseness when he pleas'd put on,
And laughing could instruct. Much had he read,
Much more had seen; he studied from the life,
And in th' original perus'd mankind.
Vers'd in the woes and vanities of life,
He pitied man: and much he pitied those
Whom falsely-smiling fate has curs'd with means
To dissipate their days in quest of joy.
Our aim is happiness; 'tis yours, 'tis mine,
He said, 'tis the pursuit of all that live;
Yet few attain it, if 'twas e'er attain'd.
But they the widest wander from the mark,
Who through the flow'ry paths of saunt'ring joy
Seek this coy goddess; that from stage to stage
Invites us still, but shifts as we pursue.
For, not to name the pains that pleasure brings
To counterpoise itself, relentless fate
Forbids that we through gay voluptuous wilds
Should ever roam: and, were the fates more kind,
Our narrow luxuries would soon grow stale.
Were these exhaustless, nature would grow sick,
And, cloy'd with pleasure, squeamishly complain
That all is vanity, and life a dream.
Let nature rest: be busy for yourself,
And for your friend; be busy even in vain,
Rather than teaze her sated appetites.
Who never fasts, no banquet e'er enjoys;
Who never toils or watches, never sleeps.
Let nature rest: and when the taste of joy
Grows keen, indulge; but shun satiety.
'Tis not for mortals always to be blest.
But him the least the dull or painful hours
Of life oppress, whom sober sense conducts,
And virtue, through this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and sense I mean not to disjoin;
Virtue and sense are one: and, trust me, still
A faithless heart betrays the head unsound.
Virtue (for mere good-nature is a fool)
Is sense and spirit, with humanity:
'Tis sometimes angry, and its frown confounds;
'Tis even vindictive, but in vengeance just.
Knaves fain would laugh at it; some great ones dare;
But at his heart the most undaunted son
Of fortune dreads its name and awful charms.
To noblest uses this determines wealth;
This is the solid pomp of prosperous days;
The peace and shelter of adversity:
And if you pant for glory, build your fame
On this foundation, which the secret shock
Defies of envy and all-sapping time.
The gaudy gloss of fortune only strikes
The vulgar eye: the suffrage of the wise,
The praise that's worth ambition, is attain'd
By sense alone, and dignity of mind.
Virtue, the strength and beauty of the soul,
Is the best gift of heaven: a happiness
That even above the smiles and frowns of fate
Exalts great nature's favourites: a wealth
That ne'er encumbers, nor can be transferr'd.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance, to shield a lucky knave,
Or throw a cruel sunshine on a fool.
But for one end, one much-neglected use,
Are riches worth your care: (for nature's wants
Are few, and without opulence supply'd.)
This noble end is, to produce the soul;
To show the virtues in their fairest light;
To make humanity the minister
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the breast
That generous luxury the gods enjoy.
Thus, in his graver vein, the friendly sage Sometimes declaim'd. Of right and wrong he taught Truths as refin'd as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to tell!) he practis'd what he preach'd.
Skill'd in the passions, how to check their sway
He knew, as far as reason can controul
The lawless powers. But other cares are mine:
Form'd in the school of Pæon, I relate
What passions hurt the body, what improve:
Avoid them, or invite them, as you may.
Know then, whatever cheerful and serene
Supports the mind, supports the body too.
Hence, the most vital movement mortals feel
Is hope; the balm and life-blood of the soul.
It pleases, and it lasts. Indulgent Heaven
Sent down the kind delusion, through the paths
Of rugged life, to lead us patient on;
And make our happiest state no tedious thing.
Our greatest good, and what we least can spare,
Is hope: the last of all our evils, fear.
But there are passions grateful to the breast,
And yet no friends to life: perhaps they please
Or to excess, and dissipate the soul;
Or while they please, torment. The stubborn clown,
The ill-tam'd ruffian, and pale usurer,
(If love's omnipotence such hearts can mould)
May safely mellow into love; and
Refin'd, humane, and generous, if they can.
Love in such bosoms never to a fault
Or pains or pleases. But, ye finer souls,
Form'd to soft luxury, and prompt to thrill
With all the tumults, all the joys and pains,
That beauty gives; with caution and reserve
Indulge the sweet destroyer of repose,
Nor court too much the queen of charming cares.
For, while the cherish'd poison in your breast
Ferments and maddens; sick with jealousy,
Absence, distrust, or even with anxious joy,
The wholesome appetites and powers of life
Dissolve in languor. The coy stomach lothes
The genial board: Your cheerful days are gone;
The generous bloom that flush'd your cheeks is fled.
To sighs devoted and to tender pains,
Pensive you sit, or solitary stray,
And waste your youth in musing. Musing first
Toy'd into care your unsuspecting heart:
It found a liking there, a sportful fire,
And that fomented into serious love;
Which musing daily strengthens and improves,
Through all the heights of fondness and romance:
And you're undone, the fatal shaft has sped,
If once you doubt whether you love or no.
The body wastes away; th' infected mind,
Dissolv'd in female tenderness, forgets
Each manly virtue, and grows dead to fame.
Sweet heaven from such intoxicating charms
Defend all worthy breasts! Not that I deem
Love always dangerous, always to be shunn'd.
Love well repaid, and not too weakly sunk
In wanton and unmanly tenderness,
Adds bloom to health; o'er ev'ry virtue sheds
A gay, humane, a sweet and generous grace,
And brightens all the ornaments of man.
But fruitless, hopeless, disappointed, rack'd
With jealousy, fatigu'd with hope and fear,
Too serious, or too languishingly fond,
Unnerves the body and unmans the soul:
And some have died for love; and some run mad;
And some with desperate hands themselves have
Some to extinguish, others to prevent, [slain.
A mad devotion to one dangerous fair,
Court all they meet; in hopes to dissipate
The cares of love amongst an hundred brides.
Th' event is doubtful: for there are who find
A cure in this; there are who find it not.
'Tis no relief, alas! it rather galls
The wound, to those who are sincerely sick.
For while from feverish and tumultuous joys
The nerves grow languid and the soul subsides,
The tender fancy smarts with every sting,
And what was love before is madness now.
Is health your care, or luxury your aim?
Be temperate still: when nature bids, obey;
Her wild impatient sallies bear no curb:
But when the prurient habit of delight,
Or loose imagination, spurs you on
To deeds above your strength, impute it not
To nature: nature all compulsion hates.
Ah! let not luxury nor vain renown
Urge you to feats you well might sleep without;
To make what should be rapture a fatigue,
A tedious task; nor in the wanton arms
Of twining Laïs melt your manhood down.
For from the colliquation of soft joys
How chang'd you rise! the ghost of what you was!
Languid, and melancholy, and gaunt, and wan;
Your veins exhausted, and your nerves unstrung.
Spoil'd of its balm and sprightly zest, the blood
Grows vapid phlegm; along the tender nerves
(To each slight impulse tremblingly awake)
A subtle fiend that mimics all the plagues,
Rapid and restless springs from part to part.
The blooming honours of your youth are fallen;
Your vigour pines; your vital powers decay;
Diseases haunt you; and untimely age"
Creeps on; unsocial, impotent, and lewd.
Infatuate, impious, epicure! to waste
The stores of pleasure, cheerfulness, and health!
Infatuate all who make delight their trade,
And coy perdition every hour pursue.
Who pines with love, or in lascivious flames
Consumes, is with his own consent undone:
He chooses to be wretched, to be mad;
And warn'd proceeds and wilful to his fate.
But there's a passion, whose tempestuous sway
Tears up each virtue planted in the breast,
And shakes to ruins proud philosophy.
For pale and trembling anger rushes in,
With fault'ring speech, and eyes that wildly stare;
Fierce as the tiger, madder than the seas,
Desperate, and arm'd with more than human
How soon the calm, humane, and polish'd man
Forgets compunction, and starts up a fiend!
Who pines in love, or wastes with silent cares,
Envy, or ignominy, or tender grief,
Slowly descends, and ling'ring to the shades.
But he whom anger stings, drops, if he dies,
At once, and rushes apoplectic down;
Or a fierce fever hurries him to hell.
For, as the body through unnumber'd strings
Reverberates each vibration of the soul;
As is the passion, such is still the pain
The body feels: or chronic, or acute.
And oft a sudden storm at once o'erpowers
The life, or gives your reason to the winds.
Such fates attend the rash alarm of fear,
And sudden grief, and rage, and sudden joy.
There are, mean time, to whom the boist'rous fit
Is health, and only fills the sails of life.
For where the mind a torpid winter leads,
Wrapt in a body corpulent and cold,
And each clogg'd function lazily moves on;
A generous sally spurns th' incumbent load,
Unlocks the breast, and gives a cordial glow.
But if your wrathful blood is apt to boil,
Or are your nerves too irritably strung,
Waive all dispute; be cautious, if you joke;
Keep lent for ever; and forswear the bowl:
For one rash moment sends you to the shades,
Or shatters ev'ry hopeful scheme of life,
And gives to horror all your days to come.
Fate, arm'd with thunder, fire, and ev'ry plague
That ruins, tortures, or distracts mankind,
And makes the happy wretched in an hour,
O'erwhelms you not with woes so horrible
As your own wrath, nor gives more sudden blows.
While choler works, good friend, you may be
Distrust yourself, and sleep before you fight.
'Tis not too late to-morrow to be brave;
If honour bids, to-morrow kill or die.
But calm advice against a raging fit
Avails too little; and it braves the power
Of all that ever taught in prose or song,
To tame the fiend that sleeps a gentle lamb,
And wakes a lion. Unprovok'd and calm,
You reason well; see as you ought to see,
And wonder at the madness of mankind:
Seiz'd with the common rage, you soon forget
The speculations of your wiser hours.
Beset with furies of all deadly shapes,
Fierce and insidious, violent and slow: /
With all that urge or lure us on to fate:
What refuge shall we seek? what arms prepare?
Where reason proves too weak, or void of wiles
To cope with subtle or impetuous powers,
I would invoke new passions to your aid:
With indignation would extinguish fear,
With fear or generous pity vanquish rage,
And love with pride; and force to force oppose.
There is a charm, a power, that sways the breast;
Bids every passion revel or be still;
Inspires with rage, or all your cares dissolves;
Can soothe distraction, and almost despair.
That power is music: far beyond the stretch
Of those unmeaning warblers on our stage;
Those clumsy heroes, those fat-headed gods,
Who move no passion justly but contempt:
Who, like our dancers (light indeed and strong!)
Do wondrous feats, but never heard of grace.
The fault is ours; we bear those monstrous arts;
Good Heaven! we praise them: we, with loudest
Applaud the fool that highest lifts his heels;
And, with insipid show of rapture, die
Of idiot notes impertinently long.
But he the Muse's laurel justly shares,
A poet he, and touch'd with Heaven's own fire;
Who, with bold rage or solemn pomp of sounds,
Inflames, exalts, and ravishes the soul;
Now tender, plaintive, sweet almost to pain,
In love dissolves you; now in sprightly strains
Breathes a gay rapture through your thrilling breast;
Or melts the heart with airs divinely sad,
Or wakes to horror the tremendous strings.
Such was the bard, whose heavenly strains of old
Appeas'd the fiend of melancholy Saul.
Such was, if old and heathen fame say true,
The man who bade the Theban domes ascend,
And tam'd the savage nations with his song;
And such the Thracian, whose melodious lyre,
Tun'd to soft woe, made all the mountains weep;
Sooth'd even th' inexorable powers of hell,
And half redeem'd his lost Eurydice.
Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels diseases, softens every pain,
Subdues the rage of poison, and the plague;
And hence the wise of ancient days ador'd
One power of physic, melody, and song.
CHATTERTON-A. D. 1752-70.
OR, THE DETHE OF SYR CHARLES BAWDIN.
The featherd songster chaunticleer
Han wounde hys bugle horne,
And tolde the earlie villager
The commynge of the morne:
Kynge Edwarde sawe the ruddie streakes
Of lyghte eclypse the greie;
And herde the raven's crokynge throte
Proclayme the fated daie.
"Thou'rt ryght," quod he, "for, by the Godde
That syttes enthron'd on hyghe!
Charles Bawdin, and hys fellowes twaine,
To daie shall surelie die."
Thenne wythe a jugge of nappy ale
Hys knyghtes dydd onne hymm waite;
"Goe tell the traytour, thatt to-daie
Hee leaves thys mortall state."
Syr Canterlone thenne bendedd lowe,
Wythe harte brymm-fulle of woe;
Hee journey'd to the castle-gate,
And to Syr Charles dydd goe.
But whenne he came, hys children twaine,
And eke hys lovynge wyfe,
Wythe brinie tears dydd wett the floore,
For goode Syr Charleses lyfe.
"O goode Syr Charles!" sayd Canterlone,
"Badde tydyngs I doe brynge."
"Speke boldlie, manne," sayd brave Syr Charles, "Whatte says the traytour kynge?"
"I greeve to telle: before yonne sonne Does fromme the welkinn flye,
Hee hath uppon hys honour sworne,
Thatt thou shalt surelie die."
"We all must die," quod brave Syr Charles; "Of thatte I'm not affearde;
Whatte bootes to lyve a little space?
Thanke Jesu, I'm prepar'd:
"Butt telle thye kynge, for myne hee's not, I'de sooner die to-daie,
Thanne lyve hys slave, as manie are,
Though I shoulde lyve for aie."
Then Canterlone hee dydd goe out,
To telle the maior straite
To gett all thynges ynne reddyness
For goode Syr Charleses fate.
Thenne Maister Canynge saughte the kynge,
And felle down onne hys knee;
"I'm come," quod hee, "unto your grace
To move your clemencye."
"Thenne," quod the kynge, "Youre tale speke out, You have been much oure friende;
Whatever youre request may bee,
Wee wylle to ytte attende."
My nobile leige! alle my request
Ys for a noblie knyghte,
Who, though may hap hee has donne wronge, He thoughte ytte stylle was ryghte:
"He has a spouse and children twaine; Alle rewyn'd are for aie,
Yff that you are resolv'd to lett
Charles Bawdin die to-dai.”
Speke not of such a traytour vile,”
The kynge ynn furie sayde;
"Before the evening starre doth sheene,
Bawdin shall loose hys hedde:
"Justice does loudlie for hym calle,
And hee shalle have hys meede: Speke, Maister Canynge! whatte thynge else Att present doe you neede?"
"My nobile leige!" goode Canynge sayde, "Leave justice to our Godde,
And laye the yronne rule asyde;
Be thyne the olyve rodde.
"Was Godde to serche our hertes and reines, The best were synners grete; Christ's vicarr only knowes ne synne,
Ynne alle thys mortall state.
"Lett mercie rule thyne infante reigne,
'Twylle faste thye crowne fulle sure;
From race to race thye familie
Alle sov'reigns shall endure:
"But yff wythe bloode and slaughter thou Beginne thy infante reigne,
Thy crowne upponne thy childrennes brows Wylle never long remayne."
"Canynge, awaie! thys traytour vile
Has scorn'd my power and mee;
Howe canst thou then for such a manne
Entreate my clemencye?"
"My nobile leige! the trulie brave
Wylle val'rous actions prize,
Respect a brave and nobile mynde,
Although ynne enemies."
"Canynge, awaie! By Godde ynne Heav'n Thatt dydd mee beinge gyve,
I wylle nott taste a bitt of breade
Whilst thys Syr Charles dothe lyve.
"By Marie, and alle Seinctes ynne Heav'n, Thys sunne shall be hys laste." Thenne Canynge dropt a brinie teare,
And from the presence paste. Wyth herte brymm-fulle of gnawynge grief, Hee to Syr Charles dydd goe, And sat hymm downe uponne a stoole,
And teares beganne to flowe.
"Wee all must die," quod brave Sir Charles; "Whatte bootes ytte howe or whenne; Dethe ys the sure, the certaine fate
Of all wee mortall menne.
Say why, my friende, thie honest soul Runns over att thyne eye;
for most welcome doome
Thatt thou dost child-lyke crye?"
Quod godlie Canynge," I doe weepe, Thatt thou so soone must dye, And leave thy sonnes and helpless wyfe; "Tys thys thatt wettes myne eye." "Thenne drie the tears thatt out thyne eye From godlie fountaines sprynge; Dethe I despise, and alle the power
Of Edwarde, traytour kynge.
"Whan through the tyrant's welcom means I shall resigne my lyfe,
The Godde I serve wylle soone provyde
For bothe mye sonnes and wyfe.
"Before I sawe the lyghtsome sunne,
Thys was appointed mee;
Shall mortall manne repyne or grudge
What Godde ordeynes to bee?
"Howe oft ynne battaile have I stoode,
Whan thousands dy'd arounde;
Whan smokynge streemes of crimson bloode Imbrew'd the fatten'd grounde:
"Howe dydd I knowe thatt ev'ry darte,
Thatt cutte the airie waie,
Myghte nott fynde passage toe my harte,
And close myne eyes for aie?
"And shall I nowe, forr feere of dethe, Looke wanne and bee dysmayde? Ne! fromm my herte flie childyshe feere;
Bee alle the manne display'd.
"Ah, goddelyke Henrie! Godde forefende,
And guarde thee and thye sonne, Yff 'tis hys wylle; but yff 'tis nott,
Why thenne hys wylle bee donne. "My honest friende, my faulte has beene
To serve Godde and mye prynce;
And thatt I no tyme-server am,
My dethe wylle soone convynce.
"Ynne Londonne citye was I borne, Of parents of grete note:
My fadre dydd a nobile armes
Emblazon onne hys cote:
"I make ne doubte butt hee ys gone,
Where soone I hope to goe;
Where wee for ever shall bee blest,
From oute the reech of woe.
"Hee taughte mee justice and the laws
Wyth pitie to unite;
And eke hee taughte mee howe to knowe
The wronge cause from the ryghte:
"Hee taughte mee wyth a prudent hande
To feede the hungrie poore,
Ne lett mye sarvants dryve awaie
The hungrie fromm my doore:
"And none can saye but alle mye lyfe
I have hys wordyes kept;
And summ'd the actyonns of the daie
Eche nyghte before I slept.
"I have a spouse, goe aske of her
Yff I defyl'd her bedde?
I have a kynge, and none can laie
Black treason onne my hedde.
"Ynne Lent, and onne the holie eve,
Fromm fleshe I dydd refrayne;
Whie should I thenne appeare dismay'd
To leave thys worlde of payne?
"Ne, hapless Henrie! I rejoyce
I shall ne see thye dethe;
Most willynglie ynne thye just cause
Doe I resign my brethe.
"Oh, fickle people! rewyn'd londe!
Thou wylt kenne peace ne moe; Whyle Richard's sonnes exalt themselves,
Thye brookes wythe bloude wylle flowe. "Saie, were ye tyr'd of godlie peace,
And godlie Henrie's reigne,
Thatt you dydd choppe your easie daies
For those of bloude and peyne?
"Whatte though I onne a sledde be drawne, And mangled by a hynde,
I doe defye the traytour's pow'r,
Hee can ne harm my mynde;
"Whatte though, uphoisted onne a pole,
Mye lymbes shall rotte ynne ayre,
And ne ryche monument of brasse
Charles Bawdin's name shall bear; "Yett ynne the holie book above,
Whyche tyme can't eate awaie,
There wythe the sarvants of the Lord
Mye name shall lyve for aie.
"Thenne welcome dethe! for lyfe eterne
I leave thys mortall lyfe:
Farewell vayne worlde, and all that's deare,
Mye sonnes and lovynge wyfe!