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While the soft evening saddens into night:
Though the sweet poet of the vernal groves
Melts all the night in strains of am'rous woe.
The shades descend, and midnight o'er the wor.
Expands her sable wings. Great nature droops
Through all her works. Now happy he whose toi
Has o'er his languid powerless limbs diffus'd
A pleasing lassitude: he not in vain
Invokes the gentle deity of dreams.
His powers the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose : on him the balmy dews
Of sleep with double nutriment descend.
But would you sweetly waste the blank of night
In deep oblivion; or on Fancy's wings
Visit the paradise of happy dreams,
And waken cheerful as the lively morn;
Oppress not nature sinking down to rest
With feasts too late, too solid, or too full :
But be the first concoction half-matur'd
Ere you to mighty indolence resign
Your passive faculties. He from the toils
And troubles of the day to heavier toil
Retires, whom trembling from the tower that rocks
Amid the clouds, or Calpe's hideous height,
The busy demons hurl; or in the main
O'erwhelm; or bury struggling under ground.
Not all a monarch's luxury the woes
Can counterpoise of that most wretched man,
Whose nights are shaken with the frantic fits
Of wild Orestes; whose delirious brain,
Stung by the furies, works with poison'd thought;
While pale and monstrous painting shocks the soul;
And mangled consciousness bemoans itself
For ever torn; and chaos floating round.
What dreams presage, what dangers these or those
Portend to sanity, though prudent seers
Reveal’d of old, and men of deathless fame,
We would not to the superstitious mind
Suggest new throbs, new vanities of fear.
'Tis ours to teach you from the peaceful night
To banish omens and all restless woes.
In study some protract the silent hours,
Which others consecrate to mirth and wine ;
And sleep till noon, and hardly live till night.
But surely this redeems not from the shades
One hour of life. Nor does it nought avail
What season you to drowsy Morpheus give
Of th' ever-varying circle of the day ;
Or whether, through the tedious winter gloom,
You tempt the midnight or the morning damps.
The body, fresh and vigorous from repose,
Defies the early fogs : but, by the toils
Of wakeful day exhausted and unstrung,
Weakly resists the night's unwholesome breath.
The grand discharge, th' effusion of the skin,
Slowly impair’d, the languid maladies
Creep on, and through the sick’ning functions steal.
As, when the chilling east invades the Spring,
The delicate narcissus pines away
In hectic languor, and a slow disease
Taints all the family of flowers, condemn'd
To cruel heav'ns. But why, already prone
To fade, should beauty cherish its own bane?
O shame! O pity! nipt with pale quadrille,
And midnight cares, the bloom of Albion dies !
By toil subdu'd, the warrior and the hind
Sleep fast and deep: their active functions soon
With generous streams the subtle tubes supply ;
And soon the tonic irritable nerves
Feel the fresh impulse and awake the soul.
The sons of indolence with long repose
Grow torpid; and, with slowest Lethe drunk,
Feebly and ling’ringly return to life,
Blunt every sense and powerless every limb.
Ye, prone to sleep (whom sleeping most annoys)
On the hard mattress or elastic couch
Extend your limbs, and wean yourselves from sloth,
Nor grudge the lean projector, of dry brain
And springy nerves, the blandishments of down:
Nor envy while the buried Bacchanal
Exhales his surfeit in prolixer dreams.
He without riot, in the balmy feast Of life, the wants of nature has supply'd, Who rises, cool, serene, and full of soul. But pliant nature more or less demands, As custom forms her; and all sudden change She hates of habit, even from bad to good. If faults in life, or new emergencies, From habits urge you by long time confirm'd, Slow may the change arrive, and stage by stage; Slow as the shadow o'er the dial moves, Slow as the stealing progress of the year. Observe the circling year.
How unperceiv'd Her seasons change! Behold! by slow degrees, Stern Winter tam'd into a ruder Spring;
The ripen'd Spring a milder Summer's glows;
The parting Summer sheds Pomona's store,
And aged Autumn brews the winter storm.
Slow as they come, these changes come not void
Of mortal shocks: the cold and torrid reigns,
The two great periods of the important year,
Are in their first approaches seldom safe ;
Funeral Autumn all the sickly dread ;
And the black fates deform the lovely Spring.
He well advis'd who taught our wiser sires
Early to borrow Muscovy's warm spoils,
Ere the first frost has touch'd the tender blade ;
And late resign them, though the wanton Spring
Should deck her charms with all her sister's rays
For while the effluence of the skin maintains
Its native measure, the pleuritic Spring
Glides harmless by; and Autumn, sick to death
With sallow quartans, no contagion breathes.
I in prophetic numbers could unfold
The omens of the year : what seasons teem
With what diseases; what the humid South
Prepares, and what the demon of the East:
But you perhaps refuse the tedious song.
Besides, whatever plagues in heat, or cold,
Or drought, or moisture dwell, they hurt not you,
Skill'd to correct the vices of the sky,
And taught already how to each extreme
To bend your life. But should the public bane
Infect you ; or some trespass of your own,
Or flaw of nature, hint mortality;
Soon as a not unpleasing horrour glides
Along the spine, through all your torpid limbs;
When first the head throbs, or the stomach feels
A sickly load, a weary pain the loins;
Be Celsus call’d: the fates come rushing on;
The rapid fates adınit of no delay.
While wilful you, and fatally secure,
Expect to-morrow's more auspicious sun,
The growing pest, whose infancy was weak
And easy vanquish’d, with triumphant sway
O'erpow'rs your life. For want of timely care,
Millions have died of medicable wounds,
Ah! in what perils is vain life engag'd!
What slight neglects, what trivial faults destroy
The hardiest frame! of indolence, of toil,
We die; of want, of superfluity :
The all-surrounding Heaven, the vital air,
Is big with death. And, though the putrid South
Be shut; though no convulsive agony
Shake, from the deep foundations of the world,
Th' imprison'd plagues ; a secret venom oft
Corrupts the air, the water, and the land.
What livid deaths has sad Byzantium seen!
How oft has Cairo, with a mother's woe,
Wept o'er her slaughter'd sons and lonely streets !
Even Albion, girt with less malignant skies,
Albion the poison of the gods has drank,
And felt the sting monsters all her own.
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent Their ancient rage, at Bosworth's purple field; While, for which tyrant England should receive, Her legions in incestuous murders mix’d, And daily horrours ; till the fates were drunk With kindred blood by kindred hands profus'd :