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The wound, to those who are sincerely sick.
For while from feverish and tumultuous joys
The nerves grow languid, and the soul subsides,
The tender fancy smarts with every sting,
And what was love before is madness now.
Is health your care, or luxury your aim,
Be temperate still when Nature bids, obey;
Her wild impatient sallies bear no curb :
But when the prurient habit of delight,
Or loose imagination, spurs you on
To deeds above your strength, impute it not
To Nature: Nature all compulsion hates.
Ah! let not luxury nor vain renown
Urge you to feats you well might sleep without;
To make what should be rapture a fatigue,
A tedious task; nor in the wanton arms
Of twining Lais melt your manhood down.
For from the colliquation of soft joys
How chang'd you rise! the ghost of what you was!
Languid, and melancholy, and gaunt, and wan;
Your veins exhausted, and your nerves unstrung.
Spoil'd of its balm and sprightly zest, the blood
Grows vapid phlegm; along the tender nerves
(To each slight impulse tremblingly awake)
A subtle fiend that mimics all the plagues,
Rapid and restless springs from part to part.
The blooming honours of your youth are fallen;
Your vigour pines; your vital powers decay;
Diseases haunt you; and untimely age
Creeps on; unsocial, impotent, and lewd.
Infatuate, impious epicure! to waste
The stores of pleasure, cheerfulness, and health!
Infatuate all who make delight their trade,
And coy perdition every hour pursue.
Who pines with love, or in lascivious flames
Consumes, is with his own consent undone;
He chooses to be wretched, to be mad;
And warn'd, proceeds, and wilful to his fate.
But there's a passion, whose tempestuous sway
Tears up each virtue planted in his breast,
And shakes to ruins proud philosophy.
For pale and trembling anger rushes in,
'With fault'ring speech, and eyes that wildly stare;
Fierce as the tiger, madder than the seas, [strength.
Desperate, and arm'd with more than human
How soon the calm, humane, and polish'd man
Forgets compunction, and starts up a fiend!
Who pines in love, or wastes with silent cares,
Envy, or ignominy, or tender grief,
Slowly descends, and ling'ring, to the shades:
But he whom anger stings, drops, if he dies,
At once, and rushes apoplectic down;
Or a fierce fever hurries him to Hell.
For, as the body through unnumber'd strings
Reverberates each vibration of the soul;
As is the passion, such is still the pain
The body feels or chronic, or acute.
And oft a sudden storm at once o'erpowers
The life, or gives your reason to the winds.
Such fates attend the rash alarm of fear,
And sudden grief, and rage, and sudden joy.
There are, meantime, to whom the boist'rous fit
Is health, and only fills the sails of life.
For where the mind a torpid winter leads,
Wrapt in a body corpulent and cold,
And each clogg'd function lazily moves on;
A generous sally spurns th' incumbent load,
Unlocks the breast, and gives a cordial glow.
But if your wrathful blood is apt to boil,
Or are your nerves too irritably strung,
Ware all dispute; be cautious, if you joke;
Keep Lent for ever, and forswear the bowl.
For one rash moment sends you to the shades,
Or shatters ev'ry hopeful scheme of life,
And gives to horrour all your days to come.
Fate, arm'd with thunder, fire, and ev'ry plague,
That ruins, tortures, or distracts mankind,
And makes the happy wretched in an hour,
O'erwhelms you not with woes so horrible
As your own wrath, nor gives more sudden blows.
While choler works, good friend, you may be
Distrust yourself, and sleep before you fight.
'T is not too late to-morrow to be brave;
If honour bids, to-morrow kill or die.
But calm advice against a raging fit
Avails too little; and it braves the power
Of all that ever taught in prose or song,
To tame the fiend, that sleeps a gentle lamb,
And wakes a lion. Unprovok'd and calm,
You reason well; see as you ought to see,
And wonder at the madness of mankind:
Seiz'd with the common rage, you soon forget
The speculations of your wiser hours.
Beset with furies of all deadly shapes,
Fierce and insidious, violent and slow:
With all that urge or lure us on to fate:
What refuge shall we seek? what arms prepare?
Where reason proves too weak, or void of wiles
To cope with subtle or impetuous powers,
I would invoke new passions to your aid :
With indignation would extinguish fear;
With fear, or generous pity, vanquish rage;
And love with pride; and force to force oppose.
There is a charm, a power, that sways the breast;
Bids every passion revel or be still;
Inspires with rage, or all your cares dissolves;
Can soothe distraction, and almost despair.
That power is music: far beyond the stretch
Of those unmeaning warblers on our stage;
Those clumsy heroes, those fat-headed gods,
Who move no passion justly but contempt:
Who, like our dancers (light indeed and strong!)
Do 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
Applaud the fool that highest lifts his heels;
And with insipid show of rapture, die
Of idiot notes impertinently long.
But he the Muse's laurel justly shares,
A poet he, and touch'd with Heaven's own fire,
Who, with bold rage or solemn pomp of sound,
Inflames, exalts, and ravishes the soul;
Now tender, plaintive, sweet almost to pain,
In love dissolves you; now in sprightly strains
Breathes a gay rapture through your thrilling
Or melts the hearts with airs divinely sad;
Or wakes to horrour the tremendous strings.
Such was the bard, whose heavenly strains of old
Appeas'd the fiend of melancholy Saul,
Such was, if old and heathen fame say true,
The man who bade the Theban domes ascend,
And tam'd the savage nations with his song;
And such the Thracian, whose melodious lyre,
Tun'd to soft woe, made all the mountains weep;
Sooth'd even th' inexorable powers of Hell,
And half redeem'd his lost Eurydice.
Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels diseases, softens every pain,
Subdues the rage of poison and of plague;
And hence the wise of ancient days ador'd
One power of physic, melody, and song.