Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck.
Duck, Stephen, 1705-1756.
Page  316

Of FRIENDSHIP. To CELIA.

OCELIA! You, whose Rays of friendly Fire,
Constant as those of Nature, ne'er expire;
If in your Breast no weighty Cares you find,
Nor better Thoughts employ your gen'rous Mind;
Vouchsafe an Ear: These Numbers are your Due;
I sing of Friendship, and I sing to You:
Friendship! a Theme, which all Mankind profess,
No Virtue more admire, none practise less;
For most have learn'd the Grecian*Sage's Text,
"To love one Day, as if to hate the next."
Page  317 They change, forsake, as serves their selfish Ends,
Nor are their Dresses vary'd more than Friends.
YOU therefore, who are worthy Friendship's Name,
And cherish in your Breast the genuine Flame,
Attend to what a faithful Muse imparts,
A Muse unpractis'd in fallacious Arts:
Tho' young in Life, that Life has made her know,
A friendly Aspect oft conceals a Foe;
That, tho' so many seeming Friends abound,
For one that's true, a thousand false are found.
WHEN first you strive a faithful Friend to find,
Explore the secret Motives of his Mind;
Nor, rashly credulous, his Friendship trust,
Before you know, what Passion rules him most:
But, as a Horseman checks the Courser's Speed,
Till he has try'd the Temper of his Steed;
Page  318 So check the Reins of Friendship, till you prove,
What sways the Person, Interest, or Love.
AVOID the Fop impertinently vain,
And shun the Slave, who flatters you for Gain;
Beware of him, who sells you for a Jest;
But, most of all, beware the leaky Breast:
(Who hopes to keep his Wine the Season round,
Must first be sure his Cask is sweet and sound)
Nor should a formal Fool your Friendship claim,
Tho' Wealth and Honours dignify his Name.
Let Knaves and Fools in kindred Vices join;
Chuse you a Friend, where Sense and Virtue shine;
Whose Passions move by Reason's Rule alone,
Much better, if agreeing with your own.
The Hart and Lion at a Distance keep;
Wolves company with Wolves, and Sheep with Sheep:
Page  319 So we, by Nature's sympathetic Pow'rs,
Most love those Tempers, that resemble ours.
YET, if it be too difficult to find
A Friend so justly moulded to your Mind,
Among the virtuous Few select the best;
And such is he, whose Failings are the least:
Let him a modest Freedom always claim,
To praise your Virtues, or your Vices blame;
Nor be displeas'd his mild Reproof to hear;
For Friends may often kindly be severe;
The Best sometimes each other may controul,
Yet not destroy the Harmony of Soul.
Rough Notes in Music never should be found,
Except adapted to improve the Sound.
WHEN mutual Faith the friendly Knot has ty'd,
And when that mutual Faith is truly try'd,
Page  320 Prey not upon yourself; nor be opprest
With conscious Pains, that struggle in your Breast:
For, as the Flames, in Aetna closely pent,
Convulse the Mountain, lab'ring for a Vent;
Thus in the Soul uneasy Thoughts confin'd,
For want of Passage, rack the suff'ring Mind.
Unveil your Bosom to your other Part;
Your Friend shall share the Burden of your Heart,
Alleviate ev'ry Ill your Soul sustains,
Double your Pleasures, and divide your Pains.
BE zealous for your Friends, whene'er you know
Their Reputation censur'd by a Foe;
Nor with a faint Excuse degrade your Friends;
The Man, who coldly praises, discommends.
Or are they justly censur'd for a Crime?
Reprove them mildly at some proper Time:
Page  321 In private chide all Failings which you find,
In public praise the Beauties of their Mind;
Place all their Virtues in the clearest Light,
Omit their Faults, or touch them very slight;
As Painters, when they draw a beauteous Face,
Contract a Blemish, heighten ev'ry Grace.
NEITHER let Passion, Pride, or private Ends,
Or changing Fortune, make you change your Friends.
Who varies oft, a faithless Temper shows,
Or, at the best, ill Judgment, when he chose.
Some Persons with themselves so disagree,
They're fix'd to nothing but Inconstancy;
With each new Day, new Resolutions come,
Expel the former, and usurp their Room:
Succeeding Billows thus the foremost throng,
Tides roll on Tides, and Waves urge Waves along.
Page  322 Not but we may with a new Friend engage,
Before we see an old one quit the Stage;
Yet should not think the new our old exceeds,
As *Jockeys value most their youngest Steeds.
One Maxim will in Wine and Friendship hold,
Alike the better both for being old.
BUT must we then be bound in deathless Bands,
And still obey whate'er a Friend commands?
Aid him to gain what he unjustly craves?
No—Leave the Man, who Truth and Virtue leaves.
Should furious CATILINE some Plot devise,
To ruin Thousands, that himself might rise;
The Laws of Honour, Truth, and Conscience show,
'Tis Friendship to the World to be his Foe.
Or, should a Friend basely betray his Trust,
To pardon him were to yourself unjust:
Page  323 For, *as the Wool, with Crimson colour'd o'er,
Never acquires its native Whiteness more;
So he who breaks his Faith, will ne'er obtain
Your Credit, nor his Innocence again.
If otherwise he disoblige his Friends,
(For where's the perfect Man, who ne'er offends?)
Try if his Ear will kind Reproof endure;
And, if the Balm of Counsel work a Cure,
O'erlook the Failure: All offend, that live;
Let Foes resent a Trespass, Friends forgive.
Yet let the pardon'd Friend not, many times,
Proceed in Folly, and repeat his Crimes.
Tho' purest Gold a vast Extent will bear,
Yet purest Gold will break, if stretch'd too far:
And Friends may bear some Slips from Wisdom's Rule;
But who can pardon the persisting Fool?
Page  324
*AMONG the various Causes, that conspire
To cool our Love, and quench the friendly Fire,
Vile Avarice assumes the greatest Pow'r,
A God which base ignoble Souls adore:
To pleasure him, a Tide of broken Vows
(Needful Libations!) on his Altar flows:
Yet, never satisfy'd, he craves for more;
And keeps his Votaries, in Plenty, poor:
Who worships him, will break the friendly Bands,
Whene'er the sordid, selfish God commands.
OTHERS there are, induc'd by Thirst of Praise,
(And ev'n the greatest Men this Passion sways)
Who quit their Friends for Honours of the State,
And turn their Love into the rankest Hate.
Page  325 Nor is it wonder these desert their Friends,
Since all are Foes, who will not serve their Ends:
For wild Ambition like a Torrent roars,
Which, when obstructed, climbs th'opposing Shores;
Till to the Top the lab'ring Flood attains,
Swells o'er the Banks, and foams along the Plains.
Not but we may an honest Fame embrace;
Nay, Friends should aid us in the glorious Chace.
Man has some Principle of heav'nly Fire,
That warms his Breast, and prompts him to aspire;
Wakes him to Actions of superior Kind,
And keeps alive the Faculties of Mind;
For Sloth begets a Lethargy of Soul,
As want of Motion taints the clearest Pool:
Yet, if, too fond and covetous of Fame,
We blow that native Spark into a Flame,
It quickly rises to a firy Storm,
And burns the Fabric 'twas design'd to warm.
Page  326 What Bands of Nature can restrain its Course?
What friendly Offices suppress its Force?
See how its Rage the young *Numidian fires,
The worst of Children to the best of Sires!
Deep, thro' his Brothers Blood, he wades his Way,
And leaps o'er Gratitude to Regal Sway.
Young CAESAR's Tutor by his Pupil dies,
While TULLY falls by him he help'd to rise;
Friends, Fathers, Brothers, Uncles, yield to Fate,
To make three Tyrants infamously great!
O! grant me, gracious Heav'n, where-e'er I go,
To be a faithful Friend, or gen'rous Foe;
Nor let me pant so much for empty Praise,
As to obtain it by dishonest Ways;
Nor wrong my Friend, tho' 'twere to gain a Throne;
Nor ruin others Fame, to raise my own.
Page  327
HE who is only learn'd in Books, will find
A harder Lesson, when he learns Mankind;
A Volume gilded o'er with smiling Art,
Where few can read the Meaning of the Heart.
We often take our Flatterers for Friends;
One would suspect the Man who still commends,
Who, like the Sharper in the Roman Play,
Or right or wrong, assents to all you say;
Bends here or there, which way his Lord's inclin'd,
As Reeds submit to ev'ry diff'rent Wind.
Nor is it strange such Parasites prevail,
When greedy Ears devour their flatt'ring Tale:
While THRASO loves to hear his Praises told,
GNATHO will give him Praise, and take his Gold.
But you, who walk by Wisdom's safer Rules,
(For 'twere but Labour lost to counsel Fools)
Page  328 Detest the Wretch, who ne'er can Courage find
To speak the genuine Dictates of his Mind;
But, like the Syrens sweet, pernicious Song,
At once would charm and ruin with his Tongue.
YET some there are, in social Bands ally'd,
Who, with blunt Truths, err on the other Side;
Void of Good-nature, and Good-breeding too,
They sourly censure ev'ry thing you do.
O! never flatter ev'n a Monarch's Pride,
Nor, with the Sternness of a Cynic, chide;
But, when you would an erring Friend reprove,
Let gentle Cautions shew, the Motive's Love:
Do not begin with Rashness to exclaim;
But rather hint the Fault, before you blame.
'Tis not enough your Admonition's just;
Prudence must guide it, or the Labour's lost:
Page  329 Friends should allure, and charm us into Sense;
Harsh Counsels not reform, but give Offence.
Nature, impatient of severe Reproof,
Loves mild Instruction, but abhors the rough:
As Fruits and Flow'rs improve with gentle Rain;
But fade, if rapid Storms o'erflow the Plain.
SOME Men are Friends, when Fortune fills the Sails,
And wafts you on with favourable Gales;
But quit the tott'ring Ship, and make to Shore,
When Storms descend, and adverse Surges roar.
Long as in Credit, Pow'r, or Place you stand,
Their fawning, formal Friendship you command:
With twenty Squeezes, and a hundred Bows,
As many Compliments, as many Vows,
They swear your Interest shall be their own,
And wish the Time to make it better known;
Page  330 Like false hot Coursers, waiting for the Chace,
Which foam, and neigh, and proudly spurn the Grass,
Intent to run; but droop their jaded Crest,
And fail you most, when most you want their Haste.
WE make a Prostitute of Friendship's Name,
If only Complaisance supports our Claim.
And yet there are, of this polite Degree,
Who treat you still with forc'd Civility;
In each obliging Art so well refin'd,
Tho' ever false, they never seem unkind.
Not that my Muse would Decency offend;
For 'tis Good-breeding polishes a Friend:
Nor shines it less, with Truth and Virtue join'd,
Than comely Features with a noble Mind:
But those, whose Friendships most in Speeches dwell,
Neglect the Fruit, and trifle with the Shell.
Page  331 True Friendship more intrinsic Worth affords,
Defin'd by Actions better than by Words;
A warm Affection, that can never cool,
Concord of Mind, and Music of the Soul;
Which tunes the jarring Strings of Life to Love,
Shews Men below, how Angels live above.
There are in Friendship such attractive Charms,
It draws Esteem from those it never warms.
See how *PACUVIUS' tragic Scenes could move
The People's Praises with fictitious Love!
When on the Stage two doubtful Princes strive,
Each seeking Death, to keep his Friend alive:
Now PYLADES deceives the Monarch's Eye;
Faithful, yet fraudulent, resolves to die:
ORESTES now displays the friendly Cheat,
Invites the threat'ning Sword, and courts his Fate.
Page  332 Mov'd with their gen'rous Love, the Audience rose;
With social Flame each changing Bosom glows;
All feel the sacred Pow'r of Friendship's Laws,
And the Stage rocks, and thunders with Applause.
I know the Muse may give to some Offence,
(Tho' rather Men of Wit, than Men of Sense)
Whose Counsel is; "Be not engag'd too far;
" The greatest Friendship brings the greatest Care:
" Our own Concerns have Plagues enough in Store;
" Who joins in Friendship, only makes 'em more:
" The Cares and Troubles, which your Friend endures,
" Are all by Sympathy adopted yours."
WHAT base, ungen'rous, selfish Souls are these?
Mere Quacks, who turn ev'n Health into Disease;
And but the darkest Side of Friendship find,
To all its radiant Beams and Beauties blind.
Page  333 Two faithful Friends, in any State, may gain
Comfort to heighten Joy, or lessen Pain:
If weighty Cares the pensive Mind invade,
They make the Burden light with mutual Aid;
If Profit, or if Pleasure chears the Soul,
The Blessing's common, each enjoys the whole:
If Bus'ness calls them to some distant Place,
Swift-pinion'd Love contracts the lengthen'd Space;
Each keeps the other's Image in his Breast,
As Wax preserves the Form a Seal imprest.
HAIL, sacred Friendship! by whose chearing Ray
All Joys increase, without it fade away:
Ev'n HYMEN's Torch, tho' burning e'er so bright,
Aided by Friendship, shines with double Light.
This you, OCELIA! by Experience find,
Whose nuptial Friend lives always in your Mind:
Page  334 No Length of Time, no Distance, ever ras'd
His lov'd Idea from your tender Breast:
Your friendly Flame admits of no Decays;
But glows, unclouded, with augmented Rays,
And makes your bridal Lamp much brighter blaze.
That faint, pale, languid Lamp, in Age, expires,
Except 'tis fed with Friendship's constant Fires:
These to the Winter of our Years extend;
And, when the Lover cools, they warm the Friend.
When all the transient Joys of Youth are o'er,
When all the Charms of Beauty charm no more;
Surviving Friendship gives us fresh Supplies
Of lasting Bliss, and more substantial Joys;
Which sweeten all the Troubles Age has brought,
And make the Dregs of Life a cordial Draught.