Night: An epistle to Robert Lloyd. By the author.



LONDON: Printed for the AUTHOR; and ſold by W. FLEXNEY, near Gray's-Inn Gate, Holborn. M DCC LXI.



WHEN foes inſult, and prudent friends diſpenſe,
In pity's ſtrains, the worſt of inſolence,
Oft with thee, LLOYD, I ſteal an hour from grief,
And in thy ſocial converſe find relief.
The mind, of ſolitude, impatient grown,
Loves any ſorrows rather than her own.
LET ſlaves to buſineſs, bodies without ſoul,
Important blanks in Nature's mighty roll,
Solemnize nonſenſe in the day's broad glare,
We NIGHT prefer, which heals or hides our care.
[Page 2]
ROGUES juſtified and by ſucceſs made bold,
Dull fools and coxcombs ſanctified by Gold,
Freely may baſk in fortune's partial ray,
And ſpread their feathers op'ning to the day;
But thread-bare Merit dares not ſhew the head
'Till vain Proſperity retires to bed.
Misſortunes, like the Owl, avoid the light;
The ſons of CARE are always ſons of NIGHT.
THE Wretch bred up in Method's drowſy ſchool,
Whoſe only merit is to err by rule,
Who ne'er thro' heat of blood was tripping caught,
Nor guilty deem'd of one eccentric thought,
Whoſe ſoul directed to no uſe is ſeen
Unleſs to move the body's dull Machine;
Which, clock-work like, with the ſame equal pace,
Still travels on thro' life's inſipid ſpace,
Turns up his eyes to think that there ſhould be
Among God's creatures too ſuch things as we.
Then for his night-cap calls, and thanks the pow'rs
Which kindly give him grace to keep good hours.
Good hours—Fine words—but was it ever ſeen
That all men could agree in what they mean?
FLORIO, who many years a courſe hath run
In downright oppoſition to the ſun,
[Page 3] Expatiates on good hours, their cauſe defends
With as much vigour as our PRUDENT FRIENDS.
Th' uncertain term no ſettled notion brings,
But ſtill in diff'rent mouths mean diff'rent things.
Each takes the phraſe in his own private view,
With PRUDENCE it is ten, with FLORIO two.
Go on, ye fools, who talk for talking ſake,
Without diſtinguiſhing diſtinctions make;
Shine forth in native folly, native pride,
Make yourſelves rules to all the world beſide;
Reaſon, collected in herſelf diſdains
The ſlaviſh yoke of arbitrary chains,
Steady and true each circumſtance ſhe weighs,
Nor to bare words inglorious tribute pays.
Men of ſenſe live exempt from vulgar awe,
And Reaſon to herſelf alone is law.
That freedom ſhe enjoys with lib'ral mind
Which ſhe as freely grants to all mankind.
No idol titled name her rev'rence ſtirs,
No hour ſhe blindly to the reſt prefers,
All are alike, if they're alike employ'd,
And all are good if virtuouſly enjoy'd.
LET the ſage DOCTOR (think him one we know)
With ſcraps of antient learning overflow,
[Page 4] In all the dignity of wig declare
The fatal conſequence of midnight air,
How damps and vapours as it were by ſtealth,
Undermine life, and ſap the walls of health.
For me let GALEN moulder on the ſhelf,
I'll live, and be phyſician to myſelf.
Whilſt ſoul is join'd to body, whether fate
Allot a longer or a ſhorter date;
I'll make them live, as brother ſhould with brother,
And keep them in good humour with each other.
THE ſureſt road to health, ſay what they will,
Is never to ſuppoſe we ſhall be ill.
Moſt of thoſe evils we poor mortals know
From doctors and imagination flow.
Hence to old women with your boaſted rules,
Stale traps, and only ſacred now to fools;
As well may ſons of phyſic hope to find
One medicine, as one hour, for all mankind.
IF RUPERT after ten is out of bed
The fool next morning can't hold up his head,
What reaſon this which me to bed muſt call
Whoſe head (thank heaven) never aches at all?
In diff'rent courſes diff'rent tempers run,
He hates the Moon, I ſicken at the ſun.
[Page 5] Wound up at twelve, at noon his clock goes right,
Mine better goes, wound up at twelve at night.
THEN in Oblivion's grateful cup I drown
The galling ſneer, the ſupercilious frown,
The ſtrange reſerve, the proud affected ſtate
Of upſtart knaves grown rich and fools grown great.
No more that abject wretch diſturbs my reſt
Who meanly overlooks a friend diſtreſt.
Purblind to poverty the Worldling goes,
And ſcarce ſees rags an inch beyond his noſe.
But from a croud can ſingle out his grace
And cringe and creep to fools who ſtrut in lace.
WHETHER thoſe claſſic regions are ſurvey'd
Where we in earlieſt youth together ſtray'd,
Where hand in hand we trod the flow'ry ſhore,
Tho' now thy happier genius runs before,
When we conſpir'd a thankleſs wretch to raiſe,
And taught a ſtump to ſhoot with pilſer'd praiſe,
Who once for Rev'rend merit famous grown
Gratefully ſtrove to kick his MAKER down,
Or if more gen'ral arguments engage,
The court or camp, the pulpit, bar, or ſtage,
If half-bred ſurgeons, whom men doctors call,
And lawyers, who were never bred at all,
[Page 6] Thoſe mighty-letter'd monſters of the earth,
Our pity move, or exerciſe our mirth,
Or if in tittle-tattle tooth-pick way
Our rambling thoughts with eaſy freedom ſtray,
A gainer ſtill thy friend himſelf muſt find,
His grief ſuſpended, and improv'd his mind.
WHILST peaceful ſlumbers bleſs the homely bed,
Where virtue, ſelf-approv'd, reclines her head;
Whilſt vice beneath imagin'd horrors mourns,
And conſcience plants the villains couch with thorns,
Impatient of reſtraint, the active mind,
No more by ſervile prejudice confin'd,
Leaps from her ſeat, as wak'ned from a trance,
And darts through Nature at a ſingle glance.
Then we our friends, our foes, ourſelves, ſurvey,
And ſee by NIGHT what fools we are by DAY.
STRIPT of her gaudy plumes and vain diſguiſe
See where Ambition mean and loathſome lies!
Reflexion with relentleſs hand pulls down
The tyrant's bloody wreath and raviſh'd crown.
In vain he tells of battles bravely won,
Of nations conquer'd, and of Worlds undone;
Triumphs like theſe but ill with Manhood ſuit,
And ſink the conqueror beneath the brute.
[Page 7] But if in ſearching round the world we find
Some gen'rous youth, the Friend of all mankind,
Whoſe anger, like the bolt of JOVE, is ſped
In terrors only at the guilty head,
Whoſe mercies, like Heav'n's dew, refreſhing fall
In gen'ral love and charity to all,
Pleas'd we behold ſuch worth on any throne,
And doubly pleas'd we find it on our own.
THROUGH a falſe medium things are ſhewn by day,
Pomp, wealth, and titles judgment lead aſtray.
How many from appearance borrow ſtate
Whom NIGHT diſdains to number with the Great!
Muſt not we laugh to ſee you lordling proud
Snuff up vile incenſe from a fawning croud?
Whilſt in his beam ſurrounding clients play,
Like inſects in the ſun's enliv'ning ray,
Whilſt, JEHU like, he drives at furious rate,
And ſeems the only charioteer of ſtate,
Talking himſelf into a little God,
And ruling empires with a ſingle nod,
Who would not think, to hear him law diſpenſe,
That he had Int'reſt, and that they had ſenſe?
Injurious thought! beneath NIGHT's honeſt ſhade
When pomp is buried and falſe colours fade,
[Page 8] Plainly we ſee at that impartial hour
Them dupes to pride, and him the tool of pow'r.
GOD help the man, condemn'd by cruel fate
To court the ſeeming, or the real great.
Much ſorrow ſhall he feel, and ſuffer more
Than any ſlave who labours at the oar.
By ſlaviſh methods muſt he learn to pleaſe,
By ſmooth-tongu'd flatt'ry, that curſt court-diſeaſe,
Supple to ev'ry wayward mood ſtrike ſail,
And ſhift with ſhifting humour's peeviſh gale.
To Nature dead he muſt adopt vile art,
And wear a ſmile, with anguiſh in his heart.
A ſenſe of honour would deſtroy his ſchemes,
And conſcience ne'er muſt ſpeak unleſs in dreams.
When he hath tamely borne for many years
Cold looks, forbidding frowns, contemptuous ſneers,
When he at laſt expects, good eaſy man,
To reap the profits of his labour'd plan,
Some cringing LACQUEY, or rapacious WHORE,
To favours of the great the ſureſt door,
Some CATAMITE, or PIMP, in credit grown,
Who tempts another's wife, or ſells his own,
Steps croſs his hopes, the promiſ'd boon denies,
And for ſome MINION'S MINION claims the prize.
[Page 9]
FOE to reſtraint, unpractis'd in deceir,
Too reſolute, from Nature's active heat,
To brook affronts, and tamely paſs them by;
Too proud to flatter, too ſincere to lie,
Too plain to pleaſe, too honeſt to be great;
Give me, kind Heaven, an humbler, happier ſtate:
Far from the place where men with pride deceive,
Where raſcals promiſe, and where fools believe;
Far from the walk of folly, vice and ſtrife,
Calm, independent, let me ſteal thro life,
Nor one vain wiſh my ſteady thoughts beguile
To fear his lordſhip's frown, or court his ſmile.
Unfit for greatneſs, I her ſnares defy,
And look on riches with untainted eye.
To others let the glitt'ring bawbles fall,
Content ſhall place us far above them all.
SPECTATORS only on this buſtling ſtage.
We ſee what vain deſigns mankind engage.
Vice after vice with ardour they purſue,
And one old folly brings forth twenty new.
Perplex'd with trifles thro' the vale of life,
Man ſtrives 'gainſt man, without a cauſe for ſtrife;
Armies embattled meet, and thouſands bleed,
For ſome vile ſpot which cannot fifty feed.
[Page 10] Squirrels for nuts contend, and, wrong or right,
For the world's empire kings ambitious fight,
What odds?—to us 'tis all the ſelf-ſame thing,
BRITONS, like Roman ſpirits fam'd of old,
Are caſt by Nature in a PATRIOT mould;
No private joy, no private grief they know,
Their ſoul's engroſs'd by public weal or woe.
Inglorious eaſe like ours, they greatly ſcorn:
Let care with nobler wreaths their brows adorn.
Gladly they toil beneath the ſtateſman's pains,
Give them but credit for a ſtateſman's brains.
All would be deem'd e'en from the cradle fit
To rule in politics as well as wit.
The grave, the gay, the fopling, and the dunce,
Start up (God bleſs us!) ſtateſmen all at once.
HIS mighty charge of ſouls the prieſt forgets,
The court-bred lord his promiſes and debts,
Soldiers their ſame, miſers forget their pelf,
The rake his miſtreſs, and the fop himſelf,
Whilſt thoughts of higher moment claim their care,
And their wife heads the weight of kingdoms bear.
[Page 11]
FEMALES themſelves the glorious ardour feel,
And boaſt an equal, or a greater zeal.
From nymph to nymph the ſtate infection flies,
Swells in her breaſt, and ſparkles in her eyes.
O'er whelm'd by politics lye malice, pride,
Envy and twenty other faults beſide.
No more their little flutt'ring hearts confeſs
A paſſion for applauſe, or rage for dreſs;
No more they pant for PUBLIC RAREE-SHOWS,
Or loſe one thought on monkeys or on beaux.
Coquettes no more purſue the jilting plan,
And luſtful prudes forget to rail at man.
The darling theme CAECILIA's ſelf will chuſe,
Nor thinks of ſcandal whilſt ſhe talks of news.
Ten thouſand mighty nothings in his face,
By ſituation as by nature great,
With nice preciſion parcels out the ſtate,
Proves and diſproves, affirms and then denies,
Objects himſelf, and to himſelf replies,
Wielding aloft the Politician rod,
Makes P—by turns a devil and a god,
Maintains e'en to the very teeth of pow'r
The ſame thing right and wrong in half an hour,
[Page 12] Now all is well, now he ſuſpects a plot,
And plainly proves, WHATEVER IS, IS NOT.
Fearfully wiſe, he ſhakes his empty head,
And deals out empires as he deals out thread.
His uſeleſs ſcales are in a corner flung,
And Europe's balance hangs upon his tongue.
PEACE to ſuch triflers, be our happier plan
To paſs thro' life as eaſy as we can.
Who's in or out, who moves this grand machine,
Nor ſtirs my curioſity nor ſpleen.
Secrets of ſtate no more I wiſh to know
Than ſecret movements of a PUPPET-SHEW;
Let but the puppets move, I've my deſire,
Unſeen the hand which guides the MASTER-WIRE.
WHAT is't to us, if taxes riſe or fall,
Thanks to our fortune we pay none at all.
Let muckworms, who in dirty acres deal,
Lament thoſe hardſhips which we cannot feel.
His GRACE, who ſmarts, may bellow if he pleaſe,
But muſt I bellow too, who ſit at eaſe?
By cuſtom ſafe the poet's numbers flow,
Free as the light and air ſome years ago.
No ſtateſman e'er will find it worth his pains
To tax our labours, and exciſe our brains.
[Page 13] Burthens like theſe vile earthly buildings bear,
No tribute's laid on Caſtles in the Air.
LET then the flames of war deſtructive reign,
And ENGLAND's terrors awe imperious SPAIN;
Let ev'ry venal clan and neutral tribe
Learn to receive conditions, not preſcribe;
Let each new-year call loud for new ſupplies,
And tax on tax with doubled burthen riſe;
Exempt we ſit, by no rude cares oppreſt,
And, having little, are with little bleſt.
All real ills in dark oblivion lye,
And joys, by fancy form'd, their place ſupply.
NIGHT's laughing hours unheeded ſlip away,
Nor one dull thought foretells approach of DAY.
THUS have we liv'd, and whilſt the fates afford
Plain Plenty to ſupply the frugal board,
Whilſt MIRTH, with DECENCY his lovely bride,
And Wine's gay GOD, with TEMP'RANCE by his ſide,
Their welcome viſit pay; whilſt HEALTH attends
The narrow circle of our choſen Friends,
Whilſt frank GOOD-HUMOUR conſecrates the treat,
And—makes ſociety complete,
Thus WILL we live, tho' in our teeth are hurl'd
Thoſe Hackney Strumpets, PRUDENCE and the WORLD.
[Page 14]
PRUDENCE, of old a ſacred term, imply'd
Virtue with godlike wiſdom for her guide,
But now in gen'ral uſe is known to mean
The ſtalking-horſe of vice, and folly's ſcreen.
The ſenſe perverted we retain the name,
Hypocriſy and Prudence are the ſame.
A TUTOR once, more read in men than books,
A kind of crafty knowledge in his looks,
Demurely ſly, with high preferment bleſt,
His fav'rite Pupil in theſe words addreſt:
WOULD'ST thou, my ſon, be wiſe and virtuous deem'd,
By all mankind a prodigy eſteem'd?
Be this thy rule; be what men prudent call;
PRUDENCE, almighty PRUDENCE gives thee all.
Keep up appearances; there lies the teſt,
The world will give thee credit for the reſt.
Outward be fair, however foul within;
Sin if thou wilt, but then in ſecret ſin.
This maxim's into common favour grown,
Vice is no longer vice unleſs 'tis known.
Virtue indeed may barefac'd take the field,
But vice is virtue, when 'tis well conceal'd.
Should raging paſſions drive thee to a whore,
Let PRUDENCE lead thee to a poſtern door;
[Page 15] Stay out all night, but take eſpecial care
That PRUDENCE bring thee back to early prayer.
As one with watching and with ſtudy faint,
Reel in a drunkard, and reel out a ſaint.
WITH joy the youth this uſeful leſſon heard,
And in his mem'ry ſtor'd each precious word,
Succeſsfully purſued the plan, and now,
"Room for my LORD—VIRTUE, ſtand by and bow."
And is this all—is this the worldlings art,
To maſk, but not amend a vicious heart?
Shall lukewarm caution and demeanour grave,
For wiſe and good ſtamp ev'ry ſupple knave?
Shall wretches whom no real virtue warms,
Gild fair their names and ſtates with empty forms,
Whilſt VIRTUE ſeeks in vain the wiſh'd-for prize,
Becauſe, diſdaining ill, ſhe hates diſguiſe;
Becauſe ſhe frankly pours forth all her ſtore,
Seems what ſhe is, and ſcorns to paſs for more?
Well—be it ſo—let vile diſſemblers hold
Unenvy'd pow'r, and boaſt their dear-bought gold,
Me neither pow'r ſhall tempt, nor thirſt of pelf,
To flatter others, or deny myſelf,
Might the whole world be plac'd within my ſpan,
I would not be that THING, that PRUDENT MAN.
[Page 16]
WHAT, cries Sir PLIANT, would you then oppoſe
Yourſelf, alone, againſt an hoſt of foes?
Let not conceit, and peeviſh luſt to rail,
Above all ſenſe of intereſt prevail.
Throw off for ſhame this petulance of wit,
Be wiſe, be modeſt, and for once ſubmit:
Too hard the taſk 'gainſt multitudes to fight,
You muſt be wrong, the WORLD is in the right.
WHAT is this WORLD? a term which men have got
To ſignify, not one in ten knows what;
A term, which with no more preciſion paſſes
To point out herds of men than herds of aſſes;
In common uſe no more it means we find,
Than many fools in ſame opinions join'd.
CAN numbers then change Nature's ſtated laws?
Can numbers make the worſe the better cauſe?
Vice muſt be vice, virtue be virtue ſtill,
Tho' thouſands rail at good and practiſe ill.
Wouldſt thou defend the Gaul's deſtructive rage
Becauſe vaſt nations on his part engage?
Tho' to ſupport the rebel CAESAR's cauſe
Tumultuous legions arm againſt the laws,
Tho' Scandal would OUR PATRIOT's name impeach,
And rails at virtues which ſhe cannot reach,
[Page 17] What honeſt man but would with joy ſubmit
To bleed with CATO, and retire with PITT?
STEDFAST and true to virtue's ſacred laws,
Unmov'd by vulgar cenſure or applauſe,
Let the WORLD talk, my Friend; that WORLD we know
Which calls us guilty, cannot make us ſo.
Unaw'd by numbers, follow Nature's plan,
Aſſert the rights, or quit the name of man.
Conſider well, weigh ſtrictly right and wrong;
Reſolve not quick, but once reſolv'd be ſtrong.
In ſpite of Dullneſs, and in ſpite of Wit,
If to thyſelf thou canſt thyſelf acquit,
Rather ſtand up aſſur'd with conſcious pride
Alone, than err with millions on thy ſide.