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Or when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a chearful hearth;
There, undisturb'd by folly, and appriz'd
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To mufe in filence, or at leaft confine
Remarks that gall fo many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Difguft conceal'd
Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obftinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic happiness, thou only blifs
Of Paradife that has furviv'd the fall!
Though few now tafte thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or tafting, long enjoy thee, too infirm
Or too incautious to preferve thy fweets
Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy chrystal cup.
Thou art the nurse of virtue. In thine arms
She fmiles, appearing, as in truth fhe is,
Heav'n-born, and deftin'd to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is ador❜d,
That reeling goddefs with the zoneless waist
And wand'ring eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle frail support;
For thou art meek and conftant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys that her ftormy raptures never yield.
Forfaking thee, what fhipwreck have we made
Of honor, dignity, and fair renown;
Till proftitution elbows us afide
In all our crowded streets, and fenates seem
Conven'd for purposes of empire less,
Than to release th' adultrefs from her bond.
Th' adultrefs! what a theme for angry verse,
What provocation to th' indignant heart
That feels for injur'd love! but I difdain
The nauseous task to paint her as fhe is,
Cruel, abandon'd, glorying in her fhame.
No. Let her pafs, and chariotted along
In guilty fplendor, fhake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has wafh'd them white.
And verfe of mine fhall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unfmirch'd,
And chafte themselves, are not afham'd to own.
Virtue and vice had bound'ries in old time,
Not to be pafs'd. And she that had renounc'd
Her fex's honor, was renounc'd herself
By all that priz'd it; not for prud'ry's fake,
But dignity's, refentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Defirous to return, and not receiv'd,
But was an wholesome rigor in the main,
And taught th' unblemish'd to preferve with care That purity, whofe lofs was lofs of all.
Men too were nice in honor in those days,
And judg❜d offenders well. And he that sharp'd, And pocketted a prize by fraud obtain'd,
Was mark'd and fhunn'd as odious. He that fold
His country, or was flack when the requir'd
His ev'ry nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid with the blood that he had bafely spar'd
The price of his default. But now, yes, now,
We are become so candid and so fair,
So lib'ral in conftruction, and fo rich
In christian charity, a good-natur'd age!
That they are fafe, finners of either fex,
Tranfgrefs what laws they may. Well drefs'd, well bred,
Well equipag'd, is ticket good enough
To pafs us readily through ev'ry door.
Hypocrify, deteft her as we may,
(And no man's hatred ever wrong'd her yet)
May claim this merit still, that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
Where vice has fuch allowance, that her shifts
And specious femblances have loft their use.
I was a ftricken deer that left the herd Long fince; with many an arrow deep infixt,
My panting fide was charg'd, when I withdrew
To feek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by th' archers. In his fide he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force foliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heal'd and bade me live.
Since then, with few affociates, in remote
And filent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few affociates, and not wishing more.
Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I fee that all are wand'rers, gone astray
Each in his own delufions; they are lost
In chace of fancy'd happiness, ftill woo'd
And never won. Dream after dream enfues,
And still they dream that they shall still fucceed,
And still are disappointed; rings the world