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Indulgent fortune does her care employ,
And, smiling, broods upon the naked boy :
Her garment spreads, and laps him in the fold,
And covers with her wings, from nightly cold :
Gives him her blefing, puts him in a way;
Sets up the farce, and laughs at her own play.
Him she promotes ; she favours him alone,
And makes provision for him, as her own.
The craving wife, the force of magic tries,
And philters for th' unable husband buys :
The potion works not on the part design'd;
But turns his brains; and ftupifies his mind.
The forted moon-calf gapės, and staring on,
Sees his own bús'ness by another done :
A long oblivion, a benumming frost,
Constrains his head ; and yesterday is loft :
Some nimbler Juice wởuld make him foam and rave,
Like that 8 Cæsonia to her Caius gave :
Who, plucking from the forehead of the folė
His mother's love infus'd it in the bowl :
The boiling blood ran hilling in his veins,
Till the mad vapour mounted to his brains.
The 9 Thund'rer was not half so much on fire,
When Juno's girdle kindled his defire:
What woman will not ase the pois'ning trade,
When Cæsar's wife the precedent has made ;
Let 1 Agrippina's mushroom be forgot,
Giv'n to a flav’ring, old, unuseful fot;
8 Cæfonia, wife to Caius Caligula, the great ayrant: it is said she gave him a love-potion, which flying op into his head, distracted hint; and was the occasion of his committing so many acts of cruelty.
9 The story is in Homer; where Juno borrowed the girdle of Venus, called Ceftos, 10 make Jupiter in love with her, while the Grecians and Trojans were fighting, that he might not help the latter.
1 Agrippina was the mother of the tyrant Nero, who poisoned her husband Claudius, that Nero might succeed, who was her son and net Brisannicus, who was the fan of Claudius, by a former wife.
That only clos'd the driv’ling dotard's eyes,
And sent his godhead downward to the skies.
But this fierce potion calls for fire and sword ;
Nor spares the common, when it strikes the lord.
So many mischiefs were in one combin'd;
So much one single pois'ner coft mankind.
If stepdames seek their fons-in-law to kill,
'Tis venial trespass ; let them have their will:
But let the child, entrusted to the care
Of his own mother, of her bread beware :
Beware the food the reaches with her hand;
The morsel is intended for thy land.
Thy tutor be thy taster, ere thou eat;
There's poison in thy drink, and in thy meat.
You think this feign'd; the Satyr in a rage
Struts in the buskins of the tragic stage,
Forgets his bus'ness is to laugh and bite;
And will of deaths and dire
Would it were all a fable, that you
But 2 Drymon's wife pleads guilty to the deed.
I (she confesses) in the fact was caught,
Two fons dispatching at one deadly draught.
What two! Two fons, thou viper, in one day!
Yes, fev'n, she cries, if sev'n were in my way.
Medea's 3 legend is no more a lye ;
Our age adds credit to antiquity.
Great ills, we grant, in former times did reign,
And murders then were done: but not for gain.
Less admiration to great crimes is due,
Which they thro’ wrath, or thro’ revenge, pursuee
For, weak of reason, impotent of will,
The fex is hurry'd headlong into ill ;
2 Widow of Drymon poisoned her fons, that she might succeed ta their estate : This was done either in the poet's time, or just before it.
3 Medea, out of revenge to Jason who had forsaken her, killed the children which she had by him. S
And, like a cliff from its foundation torn,
By raging earthquakes, into seas is born.
But those are fiends, who crimes from thought begin :
And cool in mischief, meditate the fin.
They read th' example of a pious wife,
Redeeming, with her own, her husband's life ;
Yet, if the laws did that exchange afford,
Would save their lap-dag sooner than their lord,
Where-e'er you walk, the 4 Belides you meet ;
And 5 Clytemnestras grow in ev'ry street :
But here's the diff'rence; Agamemnon's wife
Was a grofs butcher with a bloody knife;
But murder, now, is to perfection grown,
And subtle poisons are employ'd alone:
Unless some antidote prevents their arts,
And lines with balsam all the nobler parts :
In such a cafe, reserv'd for such a need,
Rather than fail, the dagger does the deed.
4 The Belides, were fifty filters, married to fifty young men, their coulin-Germans; and killed them all on their wedding-night, excepting Hypermneftra, who saved her husband Linus.
5 Clytemnestra the wife of Agamemnon, who, in favour to her adulterer Ægyfthus, was consenting to his murder,
The poet's defign, in this divine fatire, is to represent the
various wishes and defires of mankind; and to set out the folly of them. He runs through all the several heads of riches, bonours, eloquence, fame for martial archievements, long life, and beauty; and gives instances, in each, how frequently they have proved the ruin of those that owned them. He concludes therefore, that since we generally chufe so ill for ourselves, we should do better to leave it to the Gods, to make the choice for us. All we can safely ask of heaven, lies within a very small compass. It is but health of body and mind. And if we have these, it is not much matter what we want besides ; for we have already enough to make us happy.
OOK round the habitable world, how few
Know their own good; or knowing it, pursue.
How void of reason are our hopes and fears !
What in the conduct of our life appears
So well design'd, so luckily begun,
But, when we have our with, we wish undone ?
Whole houses, of their whole desires pofleft,
Are often ruin'd, at their own request.
In wari, and peace, things hurtful we require,
When made obnoxious to our own desire,
With laurels some have fatally been crown'd;
Some, who the depths of eloquence have found,
In that unnavigable stream were drown'd.
* The i brawny fool, who did his vigour boast;
In that presuming confidence was loft:
But more have been by ayarice oppreft,
And heaps of money crowded in the cheft :
Unwieldy sums of wealth, which higher mount
Thạn files of marsall’d figures can account.
To which the stores of Crosus, in the scale,
Would look like little dolphins, when they fail
In the vast shadow of the Britith whale.
For this, in Nero's arbitrary time,
When virtue was a guilt, and wealth a crime,
A troop of cut-throat guards were sent to seize
The rich mens goods, and gut their palaces :
The mob, commiffion'd by the government,
Are seldom to an empty garret sent.
The fearful paffenger, who travels late,
Charg'd with the carriage of a paltry plate,
Shakes at the moonshine shadow of a rush;
And sees a red-coat rise from every
The beggar sings, ev’n when he fees the place
Beset with thieves, and never mends his pace.
Of all the vows, the first and chief request Of each, is to be richer than the rest : And yet no doubts the poor man's draught controul, He dreads no poison in his homely bowl, Then fear the deadly drug, when gems divine Enchase the cup, and sparkle in the wine.
Will you not now the pair of sages praise, Who the fame end pursu’d, by several ways ? One pity’d, one contemnd the woful times : One laugh'd at follies, one lamented crimes;
1 Milo of Crotona; who for a tryal of his strength, going to rend an oak, perished in the attempt : for his arms were causht in the trunk of it; and he was devoured by wild beasts,