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ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.
Self-recollection, and reproof,Address to domestick happiness
Some account of myself—The vanity of many of their pursuits, * who are reputed wise--Justification of my censures-Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philosopher. The question, What is truth? answered by other questions-Domestick happiness addressed again-Few lovers of the country-My tame hare-Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden-Pruning -Framing -Greenhouse-Sowing of flower seeds-The country preferable to the town even in the winter-Reasons why it is deserted at that season-Ruinous effects of gaming and of expensive improvement-Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.
AS one, who long in thickets and in brakes
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
20 Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect Most part an empty ineffectual sound, What chance that I, to fame so little known, Nor conversant with men or manners much, Should speak to purpose, or with better hope 25 Crack the satirick thong ? 'Twere wiser far For me, enamour'd of sequester'd scenes, And charm’d with rural beauty, to repose Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine, My languid limbs; when summer sears the plains; 30 Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft And shelter'd Sofa, while the nitrous air Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth; There, undisturb’d by Folly, and appriz'd How great the danger of disturbing her,
35 To muse in silence, or at least confine Remarks, that gall so many, to the few My partners in retreat. Disgust conceal'd Is oitimes proof of wisdom, when the fault Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
40 Domestick happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that has surviv'd the fall ! Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure, Or tasting, long enjoy thee! too infirm, Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
45 Unmix'd with drops of bitter, which neglect Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup; Thou art the nurse of Virtue-in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, Heay'n-born, and destin'd to the skies again: 50 65
Thou art not known where Pleasure is ador d,
75 Not to be passid : and she that had renounced Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself By all that prizid it; not for prud'ry's sake But dignity's, resentful of the wrong. 'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif, 80 Desirous to return and not receiv'd : But was a wholesome rigour in the main, And taught th' unblemish'd to preserve with care That purity, whose loss was loss of all. Men too were nice in honour in those days, 85 And judg'd offenders well. Then he that sharp'd, And pocketed a prize by fraud obtain'd, Was markd and shunn'd as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she requir'd
95 That they are safe ; sinners of either sex Transgress what laws they may. Well dress'd, well
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd Long since. With many an arrow deep infix'd My panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew 110 To seek a tranquil death in distant shades. There was I found by one who had himself Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore, And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars. With gentle force soliciting the darts,
115 He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live. Since then, with few associates, in remote And silent woods I wander, far from those My former partners of the peopled scene ; With few associates, and not wishing more. 120 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 see that all are wand'rers, gone astray Each in his own delusions ; they are lost
In chase of fancied happiness, still wood
Dream after dream ensues ;
140 A history: describe the man, of whom His own coevals took but little note, And paint his person, character, and views, As they had known him from his mother's womb. They disentangle from the puzzled skein,
145 In which obscurity has wrapp'd them up, The threads of politick and shrewd design, That ran through all his purposes, and charge His mind with meanings that he never had, Or, having, kept conceald. Some drill and bore 150 The solid earth, and from the strata there Extract a register, by which we learn, That he who made it and reveal'd its date To Moses, was mistaken in its age. Some, more acute, and more industrious still, 155 Contrive creation ; travel nature up To the sharp peak of her sublimest height, And tell us whence the stars; why some are fix'd, And planetary some ; what gave them first Rotation, from what fountain flow'd their light. 160 Great contest follows, and much learned dust Involves the combatants; each claiming truth, And truth disclaiming both. And thus they spend