The art of preserving health: a poem.
Armstrong, John, 1709-1779.
THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH.
BOOK I. AIR.
DAUGHTER of Paeon, queen of every joy,
HYGEIA* whose indulgent smile sustains
The various race luxuriant nature pours,
And on th' immortal essences bestows
Immortal Youth; auspicious, O descend!
Thou, chearful guardian of the rolling year,
Whether thou wanton'st on the western gale,
Or shak'st the rigid pinions of the north,
Diffusest life and vigour thro' the tracts,
Of air, thro' earth, and ocean's deep domain.
Page 4 When thro' the blue serenity of heav'n
Thy power approaches, all the wasteful host
Of pain and sickness, squalid and deform'd,
Confounded sink into the loathsom gloom,
Where in deep Erebus involv'd the fiends
Grow more profane. Whatever shapes of death
Shook from the hideous chambers of the globe,
Swarm thro' the shuddering air: whatever plagues
Or meagre famine breeds, or with slow wings
Rise from the putrid wat'ry element,
The damp waste forest, motionless and rank,
That smothers earth, and all the breathless winds,
Or the vi•• carnage of th' inhuman field;
Whatever baneful breathes the rotten south;
Whatever ills th' extremes or sudden change
Of cold and hot, or moist and dry produce;
They fly thy pure effulgence: they, and all
The secret poisons of avenging heaven,
And all the pale tribes halting in the train
Of vice and heedless pleasure: or if aught
The comet's glare amid the burning sky,
Mournful eclipse, or planets ill combin'd,
Portend disastrous to the vital world;
Thy salutary power averts their rage,
Averts the general bane: and but for thee
Nature would sicken, nature soon would die.
WITHOUT thy chearful, active energy,
No rapture swells the breast, no poet sings,
No more the maids of Helicon delight.
Come then with me, O Goddess heavenly gay!
Begin the song; and let it sweetly flow,
And let it wisely teach thy wholesom laws:
" How best the fickle fabric to support
" Of mortal man; in healthful body how
" A healthful mind the longest to maintain."
'Tis hard, in such a strife of rules, to chuse
The best, and those of most extensive use;
Harder in clear and animated song,
Dry philosophic precepts to convey.
Yet with thy aid the secret wilds I trace
Of nature, and with daring steps proceed
Thro' paths the muses never trod before.
NOR should I wander doubtful of my way,
Had I the lights of that sagacious mind
Which taught to check the pestilential fire,
And quell the dreaded Python of the Nile.
O Thou belov'd by all the graceful arts,
Thou long the fav'rite of the healing powers,
Indulge, O MEAD! a well-design'd essay,
Howe'er imperfect, and permit that I
My little knowledge with my country share,
Till you the rich As•lepian stores unlock,
And with new graces dignify the theme.
YE who amid this feverish world would wear
A body free of pain, of cares a mind;
Fly the rank city, shun its turbid air;
Breathe not the chaos of eternal smoke
And volatile corruption, from the dead,
The dying, sick'ning, and the living world
Exhal'd, to sully heaven's transparent dome
With dim mortality. It is not air
That from a thousand lungs reeks back to thine,
Sated with exhalations rank and f•ll,
The spoil of dunghills, and the putrid thaw
Of nature; when from shape and texture she
Relapses into fighting elements:
It is not air, but floats a nauseous mass
Of all obscene, corrupt, offensive things.
Much moisture hurts; but here a sordid bath
With oily rancour fraught, relaxes more
The solid frame than simple moisture can.
Besides, immur'd in many a sullen bay
That never felt the freshness of the breeze,
This slumbring deep remains, and ranker grows
With sickly rest: and (tho' the lungs abhor
To drink the dun fuliginous abyss)
Did not the acid vigour of the mine,
Roll'd from so many thundring chimneys, tame
The putrid salts that overswarm the sky;
This caustick venom would perhaps corrode
Those tender cells that draw the vital air,
Page 7 In vain with all their unctuous rills bedew'd;
Or by the drunken, venous tubes, that yawn
In countless pores o'er all the pervious skin,
Imbib'd, would poison the balsamic blood,
And rouse the heart to every fever's rage.
While yet you breathe, away! the rural wilds
Invite; the mountains call you, and the vales,
The woods, the streams, and each ambrosial breeze
That fans the ever undulating sky;
A kindly sky! whose fost'ring power regales
Man, beast, and all the vegetable reign.
Find then some woodland scene, where nature smiles
Benign, where all her honest children thrive.
To us there wants not many a happy seat;
Look round the smiling land, such numbers rise
We hardly fix, bewilder'd in our choice.
See where enthron'd in adamantine state,
Proud of her bards, imperial Windsor sits;
There chuse thy seat, in some aspiring grove,
Fast by the slowly winding Thames; or where
Broader she laves fair Richmond's green retreats,
(Richmond that sees an hundred villas rise,
Rural or gay) O! from the summer's rage,
O! wrap me in the friendly gloom that hides
Umbrageous Ham! But if the busy town
Attract thee still to toil for power or gold,
Sweetly thou may'st thy vacant hours possess
In Hampstead, courted by the western wind;
Page 8 Or Greenwich, waving o'er the winding flood;
O• lose the world amid the sylvan wilds
Of Dulwich, yet by barbarous arts unspoil'd.
Green rise the Kentish Hills in chearful air▪
But on the marshy plains that Essex spreads
Build not, nor rest too long thy wandering feet.
For on a rustic throne of dewy turf,
With baneful fogs her aching temples bound,
Quartana there presides; a meagre fiend,
Begot by Eurus, when his brutal force
Compress'd the slothful Naiad of the fens.
From such a mixture sprung this fitful pest,
With feverish blasts subdues the sick'ning land:
Cold Tremors come, and mighty love of rest,
Convulsive yawnings, lassitude, and pains,
That sting the burden'd brows, fatigue the loins,
And rack the joints, and every torpid limb;
Then parching heat succeeds, till copious sweats
O'erflow; a short relief from former ills.
Beneath repeated shocks the wretches pine;
The vigour sinks, the habit melts away;
The chearful, pure and animated bloom,
Dies from the face, with squalid atrophy
Devour'd, in sallow melancholy clad.
And oft the sorceress, in her sated wrath,
Resigns them to the furies of her train;
The bloated Hydrops, and the yellow fiend
Ting'd with her own accumulated gall.
IN quest of sites, avoid the mournful plain
Where osiers thrive, and trees that love the lake▪
Where many lazy muddy rivers flow:
Nor for the wealth that all the Indies roll,
Fix near the marshy margin of the main.
For from the humid soil, and wat'ry reign,
Eternal vapours rise; the spungy air
For ever weeps; or, turgid with the weight
Of waters, pours a sounding deluge down.
Skies such as these let every mortal shun
Who dreads the dropsy, palsy, or the gout,
Tertian, corrosive scurvy, or most catarrh▪
Or any other injury that grows
From raw-spun fibres, idle and unstrung.
Skin ill perspiring, and the purple flood
In languid eddies loitering into phlegm.
YET not alone from humid skies we pine;
For air may be too dry. The subtle heaven
That winnows into dust the blasted downs,
Bare, and extended wide, without a stream,
Too fast imbibes th' attenuated lymph,
Which, by the surface, from the blood exhales.
The lungs grow rigid, and with toil essay
Their flexible vibrations; or inflam'd,
Their tender ever-moving structure thaws.
Spoil'd of its limpid vehicle, the blood
A mass of lees remains, a drossy tide
Page 10 That slow as Lethe wanders thro' the veins,
Unactive in the services of life,
Unfit to lead its pitchy current thro'
The secret mazy channels of the brain.
The melancholic fiend (that worst despair
Of physic) hence the rust-complexion'd man
Pursues, whose blood is dry, whose fibres gain
Too stretch'd a tone: and hence in climes adust
So sudden tumults seize the trembling nerves,
And burning fevers glow with double rage.
FLY, if you can, these violent extremes
Of air; the wholesome is nor moist nor dry.
But as the power of chusing is deny'd
To half mankind, a further task ensues;
How best to mitigate these fell extreams,
How breathe unhurt the withering element,
Or hazy atmosphere: tho' custom moulds
To every clime the soft Promethean clay;
And he who first the fogs of Essex breath'd
(So kind is native air) may in the fens
Of Essex from inveterate ills revive
At pure Montpelier or Bermuda caught:
But if the raw and oozy heaven offend,
Correct the soil, and dry the sources up
Of wat'ry exhalation; wide and deep
Conduct your Trenches thro' the spouting Bog;
Solicitous, with all your winding arts,
Page 11 Betray th' unwilling lake into the stream;
And weed the forest, and invoke the winds
To break the toils where strangled vapours lie;
Or thro' the thickets send the crackling flames.
Mean time, at home with chearful fires dispel
The humid air: and let your table smoke
With solid roast or bak'd; or what the herds
Of tamer breed supply; or what the wilds
Yield to the toilsome pleasures of the chace.
Generous your wine, the boast of rip'ning years,
But frugal be your cups; the languid frame,
Vapid and sunk from yesterday's debauch,
Shrinks from the cold embrace of wat'ry heavens.
But neither these, nor all Apollo's arts,
Disarm the dangers of the dropping sky,
Unless with exercise and manly toil
You brace your nerves, and spur the lagging blood.
The fat'ning clime let all the sons of ease
Avoid; if indolence would wish to live.
Go, yawn and loiter out the long slow year
In fairer skies. If droughty regions parch
The skin and lungs, and bake the thick'ning blood;
Deep in the waving forest chuse your seat,
Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air;
And wake the fountains from their secret beds,
And into lakes dilate the running stream.
Here spread your gardens wide; and let the cool,
The moist relaxing vegetable store
Page 12 Prevail in each repast: your food supplied
By bleeding life, be gently wasted down,
By soft decoction, and a mellowing heat,
To liquid balm, or, if the solid mass
You chuse, tormented in the boiling wave;
That thro' the thirsty channels of the blood
A smooth diluted chyle may ever flow.
The fragrant dairy from its cool recess
Its nectar acid or benign will pour
To drown your thirst: or let the mantling bowl
Of keen sherbet the sickle taste relieve.
For with the viscous blood the simple stream
Will hardly mingle, and fermented cups
Oft dissipate more moisture than they give.
Yet when pale seasons rise, or winter rolls
His horrors o'er the world, thou mayst indulge
In feasts more genial, and impatient broach
The mellow cask. Then too the scourging air
Provokes to keener toils than sultry droughts
Allow. But rarely we such skies blaspheme.
Steep'd in continual rains, or with raw fogs
Bedew'd, our seasons droop; incumbent still
A ponderous heaven o'erwhelms the sinking soul.
Lab'ring with storms in heapy mountains rise
Th' imbattled clouds, as if the Stygian shades
Had left the dungeon of eternal night,
Till black with thunder all the south descends.
Scarce in a showerless day the heavens indulge
Page 13 Our melting clime, except the baleful east
Withers the tender spring, and sourly checks
The fancy of the year. Our fathers talk
Of summers, balmy airs, and skies serene.
Good heaven! for what unexpiated crimes
This dismal change! The brooding elements
Do they, your powerful ministers of wrath,
Prepare some fierce exterminating plague?
Or is it fix'd in the decrees above
That lofty Albion melt into the main?
Indulgent nature! O dissolve this gloom!
Bind in eternal adamant the winds
That drown or wither: give the genial west
To breathe, and in its turn the sprightly north
And may once more the circling seasons rule
The year; not mix in every monstrous day.
MEAN time, the moist malignity to shun
Of burthen'd skies; mark where the dry champain
Swells into chearful hills; where Marjoram
And Thyme, the love of bees, perfume the air;
And where the* Cynorrhodon with the rose
For fragrance vies; for in the thirsty soil
Most fragrant breathe the aromatic tribes.
There bid thy roofs high on the basking steep
Ascend, there light thy hospitable fires.
And let them see the winter morn arise,
Page 14 The summer evening blushing in the west,
While with umbrageous oaks the ridge behind
O'erhung, defends you from the blust'ring north,
And bleak affliction of the peevish east.
O! when the growling winds contend, and all
The •ounding forest fluctuates in the storm,
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
Above the luxury of vulgar sleep.
The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser strain
Of waters rushing o'er the slippery rocks,
Will nightly lull you to ambrosial rest.
To please the fancy is no trifling good,
Where health is studied, for whatever moves
The mind with calm delight, promotes the just
And natural movements of th' harmonious frame.
Besides, the sportive brook for ever shakes
The trembling air; that floats from hill to hill,
From vale to mountain, with incessant change
Of purest element, refreshing still
Your airy seat, and uninfected goods.
Chiefly for this I praise the man who builds
High on the breezy ridge, whose lofty sides
Th' etherial deep with endless billows laves.
His purer mansion nor contagious years
Shall reach, nor deadly putrid airs annoy.
BUT may no fogs, from lake, or fenny plain,
Involve my hill. And wheresoe'er you build,
Whether on sun-burnt Epsom, or the plains
Wash'd by the silent Lee; in Chelsea low,
Or high Blackheath with wint'ry winds assail'd;
Dry be your house: but airy more than warm.
Else every breath of ruder wind will strike
Your tender body thro' with rapid pains;
Fierce coughs will teize you, hoarseness bind your voice,
Or moist Gravedo load your aching brows:
These to defy, and all the fates that dwell
In cloister'd air, tainted with steaming life,
Let lofty cielings grace your ample rooms;
And still at azure noontide may your dome
At every window drink the liquid sky.
NEED we the funny situation here,
And theatres open to the south, commend?
Here, where the morning's misty breath infests
More than the torrid noon? How sickly grow,
How pale, the plants in those ill-fated vales
That, circled round with the gigantic heap
Of mountains, never felt, nor never hope
To feel the genial vigour of the sun!
While on the neighbouring hill the rose inflames
The verdant spring; in virgin beauty blows
The tender lily, languishingly sweet;
Page 16 O'er every hedge the wanton woodbine roves,
And autumn ripens in the summer's ray.
Nor less the warmer living tribes demand
The fost'ring sun: whose energy divine
Dwells not in mortal fire, whose generous heat
Glows thro' the mass of grosser elements,
And kindles into life the pond'rous spheres.
Chear'd by thy kind invigorating warmth,
We court thy beams, great majesty of day!
If not the soul, the regent of this world,
First-born of heaven, and only less than God!
THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK II. DIET.
Page 19 THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK II. DIET.
ENOUGH of air. A desart subject now,
Rougher and wilder, rises to my sight.
A barren waste, where not a garland grows
To bind the muse's brow; not even a proud
Stupendous solitude frowns o'er the heath,
To rouse a noble horror in the soul:
But rugged paths fatigue, and error leads
Thro' endless labyrinths the devious feet.
Farewel, etherial Fields! the humbler arts
Of life; the table and the homely Gods,
Demand my song. Elysian gales adieu!
THE blood, the fountain whence the spirits flow,
The generous stream that waters every part,
And motion, vigour, and warm life conveys
To every particle that moves or lives;
This vital fluid, thro' unnumber'd tubes
Pour'd by the heart, and to the heart again
Refunded; scourg'd for ever round and round,
Enrag'd with heat and toil, at last forgets
Its balmy nature; virulent and thin
It grows; and now, but that a thousand gates
Are open to its flight, it would destroy
The parts it cherish'd and repair'd before.
Besides, the flexible and tender tubes
Melt in the mildest, most nectareous tide
That ripening nature rolls; as in the stream
Its crumbling banks; but what the vital force
Of plastic fluids hourly batters down,
That very force, those plastic particles
Rebuild: so mutable the state of man.
For this the watchful appetite was giv'n,
Daily with fresh materials to repair
This unavoidable expence of life,
This necessary waste of flesh and blood.
Hence the concoctive powers, with various art,
Subdue the cruder aliments to chyle;
The chyle to blood; the foamy purple tide
To liquors, which thro' finer arteries
To different parts their winding course pursue;
Page 21 To try new Changes, and new forms put on,
Or for the public, or some private use.
NOTHING so foreign but th' athletic hind
Can labour into blood. The hungry meal
Alone he fears, or aliments too thin,
By violent powers too easily subdu'd,
Too soon expell'd. His daily labour thaws,
To friendly chyle, the most rebellious mass
That salt can harden, or the smoke of years;
Nor does his gorge the rancid bacon rue,
Nor that which Cestria sends, tenacious paste
Of solid milk. But ye of softer clay
Infirm and delicate! and ye who waste
With pale and bloated sloth the tedious day!
Avoid the stubborn aliment, avoid
The full repast; and let sagacious age
Grow wiser, lesson'd by the dropping teeth.
HALF subtiliz'd to chyle, the liquid food
Readiest obeys th' assimilating powers;
And soon the tender vegetable ma••
Relents; and soon the young of those that tread
The stedfast earth, or cleave the green abyss,
Or pathless sky. And if the Steer must fall,
In youth and vigour glorious let him die;
Nor stay till rigid age, or heavy ails,
Absolve him ill-requited from the yoke.
Page 22 Some with high forage, and luxuriant ease,
Indulge the veteran Ox; but wiser thou,
From the bleak mountain or the barren downs,
Expect the flocks by frugal nature fed;
A race of purer blood, with exercise
Refin'd and scanty fare: For, old or young,
The stall'd are never healthy; nor the cramm'd.
Not all the culinary arts can tame,
To wholsome food, th' abominable growth
Of rest and gluttony; the prudent taste
Rejects like bane such loathsome lusciousness.
The languid stomach curses even the pure
Delicious fat, and all the race of oil;
For more the oily aliments relax
Its feeble tone; and with the eager lymph
(Fond to incorporate with all it meets)
Coily they mix; and shun with slippery wiles
The woo'd embrace. Th' irresoluble oil,
So gentle, late and blandishing, in floods
Of rancid bilc o'erflows: what tumults hence,
What horrors rise, were nauseous to relate.
Chuse leaner viands, ye of jovial make!
Chuse sober meals; and rouse to active life
Your cumbrous clay; nor on th' enfeebling down,
Irresolute, protract the morning hours.
But let the man, whose bones are thinly clad,
With chearful ease, and succulent repast,
Page 23 Improve his slender habit. Each extreme
From the blest mean of sanity departs.
I COULD relate what table this demands,
Or that complexion; what the various powers
Of various foods: but fifty years would roll,
And fifty more, before the tale were done.
Besides, there often lurks some nameless, strange,
Peculiar thing; nor on the skin display'd,
Felt in the pulse, nor in the habit seen;
Which finds a poison in the food that most
The temp'rature affects. There are, whose blood
Impetuous rages thro' the turgid veins,
Who better bear the fiery fruits of Ind,
Than the moist Melon, or pale Cucumber.
Of chilly nature others fly the board
Supply'd with slaughter, and the vernal pow'rs
For cooler, kinder sustenance, implore.
Some even the generous nutriment detest,
Which, in the shell, the sleeping Embryo •ears▪
Some, more unhappy still, repent the gifts
Of Pales; soft, delicious and benign:
The balmy quintescence of every flower,
And every grateful herb that decks the spring,
The fost'ring dew of tender sprouting life;
The best refection of declining age;
The kind restorative of those who lie
Half-dead and panting, from the doubtful strife
Page 24 Of nature struggling in the grasp of death.
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 feverish flushings all the face,
Burn in the palms, and parch the rough'ning tongue▪
Or much diminish, or too much increase
Th' expence which nature's wise oeconomy,
Without or waste or avarice maintains.
Such cates abjur'd, let prouling 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 seeds,
The generous horse to herbage and to grain•▪
Confines his wish; tho' fabling Greece resound
The Thracian steeds with human carnage wild.
Prompted by instinct's never-erring power,
Page 25 Each creature known its proper aliment;
But man, th' inhabitant of every clime,
With all the commoners of nature feeds.
Directed, bounded, by this pow'r within,
Their cravings are well-aim'd: voluptous 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,
Tho' 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?
Page 26 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 of disgust.
BUT other ills th' ambiguous feast pursue,
Besides provoking the lascivious taste.
Such various foods, tho' 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, needlesly 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,
And of each realm. It matters not mean while
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
Page 27 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 drowzy 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 wand'rings, 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,
Page 28 Thro' 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 borne;
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 feels 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 tho' the two (the full and the jejune)
Extremes have each their vice; it much avails
Page 29 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 lours;
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's beams inflame
The brazen heavens; or angry Syrius sheds
A feverish taint thro' the still gulph of air.
The moist cool viands then, and flowing cup
From the fresh dairy-virgin's liberal hand,
Will save your head from harm, tho' round the world
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,
Page 30 Influenc'd by both; a middle regimen
Impose. Thro' autumn's languishing domain
Descending, nature by degrees 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;
E'er 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 step-mother,
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
Page 31 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 meager hills.
Girt by the burning zone, not thus the south
Her swarthy sons, in either •nd, maintains:
Or thirsty Lybia; 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 stores
Of icy Zembla. Rashly where the blood
Brews feverish frays; where scarce the tubes sustain
Its tumid fervor 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,
Thro' the green shade the golden Orange glows;
Spontaneous here the turgid Melon yields
A generous pulp; the Coco swells on high
With milky riches; and in horrid mail
The soft Ananas wraps its tender sweets.
Earth's vaunted progeny: in ruder air
Too coy to flourish, even too proud to live;
Page 32 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 Plantain, 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 thro' your gelid reign.
I burn to view th' enthusiastic wilds
By mortal else untrod. I hear the din
Of waters thundering o'er the ruin'd cliffs.
With holy rev'rence I approach the rocks
Whence glide the streams renown'd in ancient song
Here from the desart 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 chearless Tanais pours his hoary urn.
Page 33 What solemn twilight! What stupendous shades!
Enwarp these infant floods! Thro' 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 Paeon, so the powers of health
Command) to praise your chrystal 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 fires of human-kind.
Happy in temperate peace! Their equal days
Page 34 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 disdain
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 lucid stream,
O'er rocks resounding, or for many a mile
Page 35 Hurl'd down the pebbly channel, wholsome yields
And mellow draughts; except when winter thaws,
And half the mountains melt into the tide.
Tho' thirst were ne'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, indolently given,
Toys with its duty, animate with wine
Th' insipid stream: tho' golden Ceres yields
A more voluptuous, a more sprightly draught;
Perhaps more active. Wine 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 quintescence of wine,
The puny wonders of the reptile world,
The tender rudiments of life, the slim
Page 36 Unrav'lings 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! fly deceiver! Branded o'er and o'er,
Yet still believ'd! Exulting o'er the wreck
Of sober Vows! But the Parnassian 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 burthen 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;
Page 37 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 dext'rous 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,
Page 40 And tottering empires rush 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 thro' the lifeless gloom
Extend his arm to light another world,
And bid new planets roll by other laws.
For thro' 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.
THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK III. EXERCISE.
Page 43 THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK III. EXERCISE.
THRO' various toils th' advent'rous muse has past;
But half the toil, and more than half, re|mains.
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 ought these lays the sickle health confirm.
To you, ye delicate, I write; for you
I tame my youth to philosophic cares,
And grow 〈◊〉 paler by the midnight lamps.
Not to 〈◊〉 with timorous rules
Page 44 A hardy frame; nor needlesly to brave
Unglorious dangers, proud of mortal strength;
Is all the lesson that in wholsome 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 meale,
Robust with labour, and by custom steel'd
To every casualty of varied life;
Serene he bears the peevish eastern blast,
And uninfected breaths 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;
Page 45 And Rome's unconquer'd legions urg'd their way,
Unhurt, thro' 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 rancor 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' etherial source
Imbibe the recent gale. The chearful 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 tract. Or, if a nobler prey
Page 46 Delight you more, go chase the desperate deer;
And thro' 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 chrystal rivulet, that o'er.
A stony channel rolls its rapid maze,
Swarms with the silver fry. Such, thro' the bounds
Of pastoral Stafford, runs the brawling Trent;
Such Eden, sprung from Cumbrian mountains; such
The Esk, o'erhurg with woods; and such the stream
On whose Arcadian banks I first drew air,
〈◊〉; till now, except in Doric lays
Tun'd to her murmurs by her love-sick swains,
Unknown in song: tho' not a purer stream,
Thro' meads more flow'ry, or more romantic groves,
Roll 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,
Page 47 With the well-imitated fly to hook
The eager trout, and with the slender line
And yielding rod sollicite 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 thro' genuine tenderness of heart,
Or secret want of relish for the game,
You shun the glories of the chace, 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 god-like 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,
Page 48 Even envy'd 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' inchanted 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 shews
The earliest bloom, the sweetest, proudest charms,
Of Flora; who best gives Pomona's juice
To match the sprightly genius of Champain.
Thrice happy days! in rural business past.
Blest winter nights! when, as the genial fire
Chears 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 thro' the fairy-land of tale or song
Delighted wander, in fictitious fates
Engag'd, and all that strikes humanity;
Till lost in •able, they the stealing hour
Page 49 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, thro' 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, chearful 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 chuses best, whose labour entertains
His vacant fancy most: the toil you hate
Fatigues you soon, and scarce improves your limbs.
Page 50 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 elastic spring,
To which they were not born. But weaker parts
Abhor fatigue and violent discipline.
BEGIN with gentle toils; and, as your nerves
Grow firm, to hardier by just steps aspire.
The prudent, even in every moderate walk,
At first but saunter; and by slow degrees
Increase their pace. This doctrine of the wise
Well knows the master of the flying steed.
First from the goal the manag'd coursers play
On bended reins; as yet the skilful youth
Repress their foamy pride; but every breath
The race grows warmer, and the tempest swells;
Till all the fiery mettle has its way,
And the thick thunder hurries o'er the plain.
When all at once from indolence to toil
You spring, the fibres by the hasty shock
Are tir'd and crack'd, before their unctuous coats,
Compress'd, can pour the lubricating balm.
Besides, collected in the passive veins,
Page 51 The purple mass a sudden torrent rolls,
O'erpowers the heart, and deluges the lungs
With dangerous inundation: oft the source
Of fatal woes; a cough that foams with blood.
Asthma, and •eller* Peripneumonie,
Or the slow minings of the hectic fire.
TH' athletic fool, to whom what heav'n deny'd
Of soul is well compensated in limbs,
Oft from his rage, or brainless frolic, feels
His vegetation and brute force decay.
The men of better clay and finer mould
Know nature; feel the human dignity;
And scorn to vie with oxen or with apes.
Pursu'd prolixly, even the gentlest toil
Is waste of health: repose by small fatigue
Is earn'd; and (where your habit is not prone
To thaw) by the first moisture of the brows.
The fine and subtle spirits cost too much
To be profus'd, too much the roscid balm.
But when the hard varieties of life
You toil to learn; or try the dusty chace,
Or the warm deeds of some important day:
Hot from the field, indulge not yet your limbs
In wish'd repose, nor court the fanning gale,
Nor taste the spring. O! by the sacred tears
Of widows, orphans, mothers, sisters, sires,
Page 52 Forbear! No other pestilence has driven
Such myriads o'er th' irremeable deep.
Why this so fatal, the sagacious muse
Thro' nature's cunning labyrinths could trace:
But there are s•crets which who knows not now,
Must, ere he reach them, climb the heapy Alps
Of science; and devote seven years to toil.
Besides, I would not stun your patient cars
With what it little boots you to attain.
He knows enough, the mariner, who knows
Where lurk the shelves, and where the whirlpools boil.
What signs portend the storm: to subtler minds
He leaves to scan, from what mysterious cause
Charybdis rages in th' Ionian wave;
Whence those impetuous currents in the main,
Which neither oar nor sail can stem; and why
The rough'ning deep expects the storm, as sure
As red Orion mounts the shrouded heaven.
Is ancient times, when Rome with Athens vied
For polish'd luxury and useful arts;
All hot and reeking from th' Olympic strife.
And warm Palestra, in the tepid bath
Th' athletic youth relax'd their weary'd limbs.
Soft oils bedew'd them, with the grateful pow'rs
Of Nard and Cassia fraught, to sooth and heal
The cherish'd nerves. Our less voluptuous clime
Not much invites us to such arts as these.
Page 53 'Tis not for those, whom gelid skies embrace,
And chilling fogs; whose perspiration feels
Such frequent bars from Eurus and the North;
'Tis not for those to cultivate a skin
Too soft; or teach the recremental fume
Too fast to crowd thro' such precarious ways.
For thro' the small arterial mouths, that pierce
In endless millions the close-woven skin,
The baser fluids in a constant stream
Escape, and viewless melt into the winds.
While this eternal, this most copious waste
Of blood degenerate into vapid brine,
Maintains its wonted measure; all the powers
Of health befriend you, all the wheels of life
With ease and pleasure move: but this restrain'd
Or more or less, so more or less you feel
The functions labour. From this fatal source
What woes descend is never to be sung.
To take their numbers, were to count the sands
That ride in whirlwind the parch'd Lybian air;
Or waves that, when the blustering North embroils
The Baltic, thunder on the German shore.
Subject not then, by soft emollient arts,
This grand expence, on which your fates depend,
To every caprice of the sky; nor thwart
The genius of your clime: for from the blood
Least fickle rise the recremental steams,
And least obnoxious to the styptic air,
Page 54 Which breathe thro' straiter and more callous pores.
The temper'd Scythian hence, half naked treads
His boundless snows, nor rues th' inclement heaven;
And hence our painted ancestors defied
The East; nor curs'd, like us, their sickle sky.
THE body, moulded by the clime, endures,
Th' Equator 〈◊〉 or Hyperborean frost:
Except by habits foreign to its turn,
Unwise, you counteract its forming pow'r.
Rude at the first, the winter shocks you less.
By long acquaintance: study then your sky,
Form to its manners your obsequious frame.
And learn to suffer what you cannot shun.
Against the rigours of a damp cold heav'n
To fortify their bodies, some frequent
The gelid cistern; and, where nought forbids.
I praise their dauntless heart. A frame so steel'd
Dreads not the cough, nor those ungenial blasts,
That breathe the Tertian or fell Rheumatism;
The nerves so temper'd never quit their tone,
No chronic languors haunt such hardy breasts.
But all things have their bounds: and he who makes
By daily use the kindest regimen
Essential to his health, should never mix
With human kind, nor art nor trade pursue:
He not the safe vicissitudes of life
Without some shock endures; ill-fitted he
Page 55 To want the known, or bear unusual things:
Besides, the powerful remedies of pain
(Since pain in spite of all our care will come)
Should never with your prosperous days of health
Grow too familiar: For by frequent use
The strongest medicines lose their healing power,
And even the surest poisons theirs to kill.
LET those who from the frozen Arctos reach
Parch'd Mauritania, or the sultry West,
Or the wide flood that waters Indostan,
Plunge thrice a day, and in the tepid wave
Untwist their stubborn pores; that full and free
Th' evaporation thro' the soft'ned skin
May bear proportion to the swelling blood.
So shall they scape the fever's rapid flames;
So feel untainted the hot breath of hell.
With us, the man of no complaint demands
The warm ablution, just enough to clear
The sluices of the skin, enough to keep
The body sacred from indecent soil.
Still to be pure, even did it not conduce
(As much it does) to health, were greatly worth
Your daily pains. 'Tis this adorns the rich;
The want of this is poverty's worst woe:
With this external virtue, age maintains
A decent grace; without it, youth and charms
Are loathsome. This the skilful virgin knows:
Page 56 So doubtless do your wives. For married sires,
As well as lovers, still pretend to taste;
Nor is it less (all prudent wives can tell)
To lose a husband's, than a lover's heart.
BUT now the hours and seasons when to toil,
From foreign themes recal my wandering song.
Some labour fasting, or but slightly fed,
To lull the grinding stomach's hungry rage:
Where nature feeds too corpulent a frame,
'Tis wisely done. For while the thirsty veins,
Impatient of lean penury, devour
The treasur'd oil, then is the happiest time
To shake the lazy balsam from its cells.
Now while the stomach from the full repast
Subsides, but ere returning hunger gnaws,
Ye leaner habits give an hour to toil:
And ye whom no luxuriancy of growth
Oppresses yet, or threatens to oppress.
But from the recent meal no labours please,
Of limbs or mind. For now the cordial powers
Claim all the wandering spirits to a work
Of strong and subtle toil, and great event;
A work of time: and you may rue the day
You hurried, with ill-seasoned exercise,
A half concocted chyle into the blood.
The body overcharg'd with unctuous phlegm
Much toil demands: the lean elastic less.
Page 57 While winter chills the blood, and binds the veins,
No labours are too hard: by those you 'scape
The slow diseases of the torpid year;
Endless to name; to one of which alone,
To that which tears the nerves, the toil of slaves
Is pleasure: oh! from such inhuman pains
May all be free who merit not the wheel!
But from the burning Lion when the sun
Pours down his sultry wrath; now while the blood
Too much already maddens in the veins,
And all the finer fluids thro' the skin
Explore their flight; me, near the cool cascade
Reclin'd, or sauntring in the lofty grove,
No needless slight occasion should engage
To pant and sweat beneath the fiery noon.
Now the fresh morn alone and mellow eve
To shady walks and active rural sports
Invite. But while the chilling dews descend,
May nothing tempt you to the cold embrace
Of humid skies: tho' 'tis no vulgar joy
To trace the horrors of the solemn wood,
While the soft evening saddens into night:
Tho' the sweet poet of the vernal groves
Melts all the night in strains of amorous woe.
THE shades descend, and midnight o'er the world
Expands her fable wings. Great nature droops
Thro' all her works. Now happy he whose toil
Has o'er his languid powerless limbs diffus'd
Page 58 A pleasing lassitude: he not in vain
Invokes the gentle deity of dreams.
His powers the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose: on him the balmy dews
Of sleep with double nutriment descend.
But would you sweetly waste the blank of night
In deep oblivion; or on fancy's wings
Visit the paradise of happy dreams,
And waken chearful as the lively morn;
Oppress not nature sinking down to rest
With feasts too late, too solid, or too full.
But be the first concoction half-matur'd,
Ere you to mighty indolence resign
Your passive faculties. He from the toils
And troubles of the day to heavier toil
Retires, whom trembling from the tower that rocks
Amid the clouds, or Calpe's hideous height,
The busy daemons hurl, or in the main
O'erwhelm, or bury struggling under ground.
Not all a monarch's luxury the woes
Can counterpoise, of that most wretched man,
Whose nights are shaken with the frantic fits
Of wild Orestes; whose delirious brain,
Stung by the furies, works with poisoned thought:
While pale and monstrous painting shocks the soul;
And mangled consciousness bemoans itself
For ever torn; and chaos floating round.
What dreams presage, what dangers these or those
Portend to sanity, tho' prudent seers
Page 59 Reveal'd of old, and men of deathless fame;
We would not to the superstitious mind
Suggest new throbs, new vanities of fear.
'Tis ours to teach you from the peaceful night
To banish omens, and all restless woes.
IN study some protract the silent hours,
Which others consecrate to mirth and wine;
And sleep till noon, and hardly live till night.
But surely this redeems not from the shades
One hour of life. Nor does it nought avail
What season you to drowsy Morpheus give
Of th' ever varying circle of the day;
Or whether, thro' the tedious winter gloom,
You tempt the midnight or the morning damps.
The body, fresh and vigorous from repose,
Defies the early fogs; but, by the toils
Of wakeful day, exhausted and unstrung,
Weakly resists the night's unwholsome breath.
The grand Discharge, th' effusion of the skin,
Slowly impair'd, the languid maladies
Creep on, and thro' the sick'ning functions steal.
So, when the chilling East invades the spring,
The delicate Narcissus pines away
In hectic languor; and a slow disease
Taints all the family of flowers, condemn'd
To cruel heav'ns. But why, already prone
To fade, should beauty cherish its own bane?
Page 60 O shame! O pity! nipt with pale Quadrille,
And midnight cares, the bloom of Albion dies!
By toil subdu'd, the Warrior and the Hind
Sleep fast and deep; their active functions soon
With generous streams the subtle tubes supply,
And soon the tonick irritable nerves
Feel the fresh impulse, and awake the soul.
The sons of Indolence, with long repose,
Grow torpid; and, with slowest Lethe drunk,
Feebly and lingringly return to life,
Blunt every sense, and powerless every limb.
Ye, prone to sleep (whom sleeping most annoys)
On the hard mattrass or elastic couch
Extend your limbs, and wean yourselves from sloth;
Nor grudge the lean projector, of dry brain
And springy nerves, the blandishments of down.
Nor envy while the buried bacchanal
Exhales his surfeit in prolixer dreams.
HE without riot in the balmy feast
Of life, the wants of nature has supplied
Who rises cool, serene, and full of soul.
But pliant nature more or less demands,
As custom forms her; and all sudden change
She hates of habit, even from bad to good.
If faults in life, or new emergencies,
From habits urge you by long time confirm'd,
Slow may the change arrive, and stage by stage;
Page 61 Slow as the shadow o'er the dial moves,
Slow as the stealing progress of the year.
OBSERVE the circling year. How unperceiv'd
Her seasons change! Behold! by slow degrees,
Stern Winter tam'd into a ruder spring;
The ripen'd Spring a milder summer glows;
Departing Summer sheds Pomona's store;
And aged Autumn brews the Winter-storm.
Slow as they come, these changes come not void
Of mortal shocks: the cold and torrid reigns,
The two great periods of th' important year,
Are in their first approaches seldom safe:
Funereal autumn all the sickly dread,
And the black fates deform the lovely spring.
He well advis'd, who taught our wiser •ires
Early to borrow Muscovy's warm spoils,
Ere the first frost has touch'd the tender blade;
And late resign them, tho' the wanton spring
Should deck her charms with all her sister's rays.
For while the effluence of the skin maintains
Its native measure, the pleuritic Spring
Glides harmless by; and Autumn, sick to death
With •allow Quartans, no contagion breathes.
I IN prophetic numbers could unfold
The omens of the year: what seasons teem
With what diseases; what the humid South
Prepares, and what the Daemon of the •ast.
Page 62 But you perhaps refuse the tedious song.
Besides, whatever plagues in heat, or cold,
Or drought, or moisture dwell, they hurt not you.
Skill'd to correct the vices of the sky,
And taught already how to each extream
To bend your life. But should the public bane
Infect you, or some trespass of your own,
Or flaw of nature hint mortality:
Soon as a not unpleasing horror glides
Along the spine, thro' all your torpid limbs;
When first the head throbs, or the stomach feels
A sickly load, a weary pain the loins;
Be Celsus call'd: the fates come rushing on;
The rapid fates admit of no delay.
While wilful you, and fatally secure,
Expect to morrow's more auspicious sun,
The growing pest, whose infancy was weak
And easy vanquish'd, with triumphant sway
O'erpowers your life. For want of timely care
Millions have died of medicable wounds.
AH! in what perils is vain life engag'd!
What slight neglects, what trivial faults destroy
The hardiest frame! Of indolence, of toil,
We die; of want, of superfluity.
The all-surrounding heaven, the vital air,
Is big with death. And, tho' the putrid South
Be shut; tho' no convulsive agony
Shake, from the deep foundations of the world,
Page 63 Th' imprisoned plagues; a secret venom oft
Corrupts the air, the water, and the land.
What livid deaths has sad Byzantium seen!
How oft has Cairo, with a mother's woe.
Wept o'er her slaughter'd sons, and lonely streets▪
Even Albion, girt with less malignant skies,
Albion the poison of the Gods has drunk,
And felt the sting of monsters all her own.
ERE yet the fell Plantagenets had spent
Their ancient rage, at Bosworth's purple field;
While for which tyrant England should receive
Her legions in incestuous murders mix'd,
And daily horrors; till the fates were drunk
With kindred blood by kindred hands profus'd:
Another plague of more gigantic arm
Arose, a monster never known before,
Rear'd from Cocytus its portentous head.
This rapid fury not, like other pests,
Pursu'd a gradual course, but in a day
Rush'd as a storm o'er half th' astonish'd isle,
And strew'd with sudden carcases the land.
FIRST thro' the shoulders, or whatever part
Was seiz'd the first, a fervid vapour sprung.
With rash combustion thence, the quivering spark
Shot to the heart, and kindled all within;
And soon the surface caught the spreading fires.
Thro' all the yielding pores the melted blood
Page 64 Gush'd out in smoaky sweats; but nought assuag'd
The torrid heat within, nor aught reliev'd
The stomach's anguish. With incessant toil,
Desperate of ease, impatient of their pain,
They toss'd from side to side. In vain the stream
Ran full and clear, they burnt and thirsted still.
The restless arteries with rapid blood
Beat strong and frequent. Thick and pantingly
The breath was fetch'd, and with huge lab'rings heav'd.
At last a heavy pain oppress'd the head,
A wild delirium came; their weeping friends
Were strangers now, and this no home of theirs.
Harass'd with toil on toil, the sinking powers
Lay prostrate and o'erthrown; a ponderous sleep
Wrapt all the senses up: they slept and died.
IN some a gentle horror crept at first
O'er all the limbs; the sluices of the skin
Withheld their moisture, till by art provok'd
The sweats o'erflow'd; but in a clammy tide:
Now free and copious, now restrain'd and slow;
Of tinctures various, as the temperature
Had mix'd the blood; and rank with fetid steams:
As if the pent-up humors by delay
Were grown more fell, more putrid, and malign,
Here lay their hopes (tho' little hope remain'd)
With full effusion of perpetual sweats
To drive the venom out. And here the fates
Were kind, that long they linger'd not in pain.
For who surviv'd the sun's diurnal race,
Page 65 Rose from the dreary gates of hell redeem'd:
Some the sixth hour oppress'd, and some the third.
OF many thousands few untainted 'scap'd;
Of those infected fewer 'scap'd alive:
Of those who liv'd some felt a second blow;
And whom the second spar'd a third destroy'd.
Frantic with fear, they sought by flight to shun
The fierce contagion. O'er the mournful land
Th' infected city pour'd her hurrying swarms:
Rous'd by the flames that fir'd her ••ats around,
Th' infected country rush'd into the town.
Some, sad at home, and in the desart some.
Abjur'd the fatal commerce of mankind;
In vain: where'er they fled the Fates pursu'd.
Others with hopes more specious, cross'd the main,
To seek protection in far-distant skies;
But none they found. It seem'd the general air
Was then at enmity with English blood.
For, but the race of England, all were safe
In foreign climes; nor did this fury taste
The foreign blood which Albion then contain'd.
Where should they fly? The circumambient heaven
Involv'd them still, and every breeze was bane.
Where find relief? The salutary art
Was mute; and, startled at the new disease,
In fearful whispers hopeless omens gave.
To heaven with suppliant rites they sent their pray'rs,
Page 66 Heav'n heard them not. Of every hope depriv'd;
Fatigu'd with vain resources; and subdu'd
With woes resistless and enfeebling fear;
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow.
Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard,
Nor ought was seen but ghastly views of death;
Infectious horror ran from face to face,
And pale despair. 'Twas all the business then
To tend the sick, and in their turns to die.
In heaps they fell: and oft one bed, they say,
The sickening, dying, and the dead contain'd.
YE guardian Gods, on whom the Fates depend
Of tottering Albion! Ye eternal fires,
That lead thro heav'n the wandering year! Ye pow'rs
That o'er th' incircling elements preside!
May nothing worse than what this age has seen
Arrive! Enough abroad, enough at home
Has Albion bled. Here a distemper'd heaven
Has thin'd her cities; from those lofty cliffs
That awe proud Gaul, to Thule's wint'ry reign;
While in the West, beyond th' Atlantic foam,
Her bravest sons, keen for the fight, have died
The death of cowards, and of common men;
Sunk void of wounds, and fall'n without renown.
BUT from these views the weeping Muses turn,
And other themes invite my wandering song.
THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK IV. The PASSIONS.
Page 69 THE ART OF PRESERVING HEALTH. BOOK IV. The PASSIONS.
THE choice of aliment, the choice of air,
The use of toil, and all external things,
Already sung; it now remains to trace
What good what evil from ourselves proceeds:
And how the subtle principle within
Inspires with health, or mines with strange decay
The passive body. Ye poetic Shades,
That know the secrets of the world unseen,
Assist my song! For, in a doubtful theme
Engag'd, I wander thro' mysterious ways.
THERE is, they say (and I believe there is)
A spark within us of th' immortal fire,
Page 70 That animates and moulds the grosser frame;
And when the body sinks, escapes to heaven,
Its native seat; and mixes with the Gods.
Mean while this heavenly particle pervades
The mortal elements, in every nerve
It thrills with pleasure, or grows mad with pain.
And, in its secret conclave, as it feels
The body's woes and joys, this ruling power
Weilds at its will the dull material world,
And is the body's health or malady.
BY its own toil the gross corporeal frame
Fatigues, extenuates, or destroys itself:
Nor less the labours of the mind corrode
The solid fabric. For by subtle parts,
And viewless atoms, secret Nature moves
The mighty wheels of this stupendous world.
By subtle fluids pour'd thro' subtle tubes
The natural, vital functions, are perform'd.
By these the stubborn aliments are tam'd;
The toiling heart distributes life and strength;
These the still-crumbling frame rebuild; and these
Are lost in thinking, and dissolve in air.
BUT 'tis not Thought (for still the soul's employ'd)
'Tis painful thinking that corrodes our clay.
All day the vacant eye without fatigue
Strays o'er the heaven and earth; but long intent
Page 71 On microscopic arts its vigour fails.
Just so the mind, with various thoughts amus'd,
Nor aches itself, nor gives the body pain.
But anxious Study, Discontent, and Care,
Love without Hope, and Hate without revenge,
And Fear, and Jealousy, fatigue the soul,
Engross the subtle ministers of life,
And spoil the lab'ring functions of their share.
Hence the lean gloom that Melancholy wears;
The Lover's paleness; and the sallow hue
Of Envy, Jealousy; the meagre stare
Of sore Revenge: the canker'd body hence
Betrays each fretful motion of the mind.
THE strong-built pedant; who both night and day
Feeds on the coarsest fare the schools bestow,
And crudely fattens at gross Burman's stall;
O'erwhelm'd with phlegm lies in a dropsy drown'd,
Or sinks in lethargy before his time.
With useful studies you, and arts that please,
Employ your mind, amuse, but not fatigue.
Peace to each drowsy metaphysic sage!
And ever may the German folio's rest!
And some there are, even of elastic parts,
Whom strong and obstinate ambition leads
Thro' all the rugged roads of barren lore,
And gives to relish what their generous taste
Would else refuse. But may nor thirst of fame,
Page 72 Nor love of knowledge urge you to fatigue
With constant drudgery the liberal soul.
Toy with your books: and, as the various fits
Of humour seize you, from Philosophy
To Fable shift; from serious Antonine
To Rabelais' ravings, and from prose to song.
WHILE reading pleases, but no longer, read;
And read aloud, resounding Horner's strain,
And weild the thunder of Demosthenes.
The chest so exercis'd improves its strength;
And quick vibrations thro' the bowels drive
The restless blood, which in unactive days
Would loiter else thro' unelastic tubes.
Deem it not trifling while I recommend
What posture suits: to stand and sit by turns,
As nature prompts, is best. But o'er your leaves
To lean for ever, cramps the vital parts,
And robs the fine machinery of its play.
'Tis the great art of life to manage well
The restless mind. For ever on pursuit
Of knowledge bent it starves the grosser powers.
Quite unemploy'd, against its own repose
It turns its fatal edge, and sharper pangs
Than what the body knows imbitter life.
Chiefly where Solitude, sad nurse of care,
To sickly musing gives the pensive mind.
Page 73 There madness enters; and the dim-ey'd Fiend,
Sour Melancholy, night and day provokes
Her own eternal wound. The sun grows pale;
A mournful visionary light o'erspreads
The chearful face of nature: earth becomes
A dreary desart, and heaven frowns above.
Then various shapes of curs'd illusion rise;
Whate'er the wretched fears, creating Fear
Forms out of nothing; and with monsters teems
Unknown in hell. The prostrate soul beneath
A load of huge imagination heaves.
And all the horrors that the guilty feel,
With anxious flutterings wake the guiltless breast.
SUCH phantoms Pride in solitary scenes,
Or Fear, on delicate Self-love creates.
From other cares absolv'd, the busy mind
Finds in yourself a theme to pore upon;
It finds you miserable, or makes you so.
For while yourself you anxiously explore,
Timorous Self-love, with sick'ning Fancy's aid,
Presents the danger that you dread the most,
And ever galls you in your tender part.
Hence some for love, and some for jealousy,
For grim religion some, and some for pride,
Have lost their reason: some for fear of want
Want all their lives; and others every day
For fear of dying suffer worse than death.
Page 74 Ah! from your bosoms banish, if you can,
Those fatal guests: and first the Daemon Fear;
That trembles at impossible events,
Lest aged Atlas should resign his load,
And heav'n's eternal battlements rush down,
Is there an evil worse than fear itself?
And what avails it that indulgent heaven
From mortal eyes has wrapt the woes to come,
If we, ingenious to torment ourselves,
Grow pale at hideous fictions of our own?
Enjoy the present; nor with needless cares,
Of what may spring from blind Misfortune's womb,
Appal the surest hour that life bestows.
Serene, and master of yourself, prepare
For what may come; and leave the rest to heaven.
OFT from the body, by long ails mistun'd,
These evils sprung the most important health,
That of the mind, destroy: and when the mind
They first invade, the conscious body soon
In sympathetic languishment declines.
These chronic passions, while from real woes
They rise, and yet without the body's fault
Infest the soul, admit one only cure;
Diversion, hurry, and a restless life.
Vain are the consolations of the wise,
In vain your friends would reason down your pain.
Oh ye whose souls relentless love has tam'd
Page 75 To soft distress, or friends untimely slain!
Court not the luxury of tender thought:
Nor deem it impious to forget those pains
That hurt the living, nought avail the dead.
Go, soft enthusiast! quit the cypress groves,
Nor to the rivulet's lonely moanings tune
Your sad complaint. Go, seek the chearful haunts
Of men, and mingle with the bustling croud;
Lay schemes for wealth, or power, or fame, the wish
Of nobler minds, and push them night and day.
Or join the caravan in quest of scenes
New to your eyes, and shifting every hour;
Beyond the Alps, beyond the Appennines.
Or, more advent'rous, rush into the field
Where war grows hot; and, raging thro' the sky,
The lofty trumpet swells the maddening 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 oy resisting conquer Fate,
Try Circe's arts; and in the tempting bowl
Of poison'd Nectar sweet oblivion drink.
Struck by the powerful 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;
Page 76 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 thundering 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 ten-fold 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 Citheron'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 Champain you pour
A thousand curses; for to heaven your soul
It rapt, to plunge you deeper in despair.
Perhaps you rue even that divinest gift,
Page 77 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. By 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 your 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. Tho' old, he still retain'd
His manly sense, and energy of mind.
Virtuous and wise he was, but not severe;
Page 78 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 thro' the flow'ry paths of saunt'ring joy
Seek this coy Goddess; that from stage of 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 thro' gay voluptuous wilds
Should ever roam: and were the Fates more kind,
Our narrow luxuries would soon be stale.
Were these exhaustless, Nature would grow sick,
And, cloy'd with pleasure, squeamishly complain
That all was vanity, and life a dream.
Let nature rest: be busy for yourself,
Page 79 And for your friend; be busy even in vain
Rather than teize 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, thro' this labyrinth we tread.
Virtue and Sense I mean not to disjoin:
Virtue and Sense are one; and, trust me, he
Who has not virtue, is not truly wise.
Virtue (for meer 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 gawdy gloss of Fortune only strikes
Page 80 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 incumbers, nor to baser hands
Can be transferr'd: it is the only good
Man justly boasts of, or can call his own.
Riches are oft by guilt and baseness earn'd;
Or dealt by chance, to shield a lucky knave,
Or throw a cruel sun-shine 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 supplied.)
This noble end is, to produce the Soul;
To shew the virtues in their fairest light;
To make Humanity the Minister
Of bounteous Providence; and teach the Br••st
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
Page 81 He knew, as far as Reason can controul
The lawless Powers. But other cares are mine:
Form'd in the school of Paeon, I relate
What Passions hurt the body, what improve:
Avoid them, or invite them, as you may.
KNOW then, whatever chearful 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, thro' 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 Russian, and pale Usurer,
(If Love's omnipotence such hearts can mould)
May safely mellow into love; and grow
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
Page 82 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 wholsome appetites and powers of life
Dissolve in languor. The coy stomach loaths
The genial board: your chearful 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
Thro' 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
Page 83 In wanton and unmanly tenderness,
Adds blooom to Health; o'er every virtue sheds
A gay, humane, and amiable 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 hand themselves have slain.
SOME to extinguish, others to prevent,
A mad devotion to one dangerous Fair,
Court all they meet; in hopes to dissipate
The cares of Love amongst a 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 bi••, obey;
Her wild impatient •allies bear no curb.
But when the prurient habit of delight.
Or loose imagination, spurs you on
Page 84 To deeds above your strength, impute it not
To Nature: Nature all compulsion hates.
Ah' let nor 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, chearfulness, 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 chuses to be wretched, to be mad;
Page 85 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 Tyger, madder than the seas,
Desperate, and arm'd with more than human strength.
How soon the calm, huma•• 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 thro' 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,
Page 86 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 you nerves too irritably strung;
Wave all Dispute; be cautious if 〈◊〉 joke;
Keep Lent for ever; and forswear the bowl.
For one rash 〈◊〉 sends you to the shades,
Or shatters every hopeful scheme of life,
And gives to horror all your days to come.
Fate, arm'd with thunder, fire, and every 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 wrong;
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 tries the power
Of all that ever taught in Prose or Song,
To tame the Fiend that steeps a gentle Lamb,
And wakes a Lion. Unprovok'd and calm,
You reason well, see as you ought to see▪
Page 87 And wonder at the madness of mankind:
Seiz'd with the common rage, you soon forget
The speculations of your wi•• 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 w••k or void of wiles,
To cope with subtle or im〈7 letters〉 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 sooth Distraction, and almost Despair.
That Power is Music: far beyond the stretch
Of those unmeaning warblers on our stage;
Those clumsy Heroes, those sat-headed Gods.
Who move no Passion justly but Contempt:
Who, like our Dancers (light indeed and strong!)
Do wond'rous feats, but never heard of grace.
The fault is ours; we bear those monstrous arts.
Good Heaven we praise them: we, with loudest peals,
Applaud the fool that highest lifts his heels;
And with insipid shew of rapture, die
Page 88 Of ideot 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 •••ure thro' your thrilling breast;
Or melts th•〈…〉 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 h•athen 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 harmonious 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.
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