Edward Young.

Night thoughts on life, death and immortality online

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And Peace, beyond the world's conception, smiles! 485
As thou (now dark) before we part, shalt see.

But thy great soul this skulking glory scorns.
LORENZO 's sick, but when LORENZO 's seen ;
And, when he shrugs at public bus'ness, lies j
Deny'd the public eye, the public voice, 490

As if he liv'd on others' breath, he dies.
Fain would he make the world his pedestal ;
Mankind, the gazers, the sole figure, he.
Knows he, that mankind praise against their will,
And mix as much detraction as they can ? 495

Knows he, that faithless Fame her whisper has,
As well as trumpet ? that his vanity
Is so much tickled from not hearing all ?
Knows this all-knower, that from itch of praise,
Or, from an itch more sordid, when he shines, 500
Taking his country by five hundred ears,
Senates at once admire him, and despise,
With modest laughter lining loud applause,
Which makes the smile more mortal to his fame ?
His fame, which (like the mighty Caesar), crown'd
With laurels, in full senate, greatly falls, 506

By seeming friends, that honour, and destroy.
We rise in glory, as we sink in pride ;
Where boasting ends, there dignity begins ;
And yet, mistaken beyond all mistake, 510

The blind LORENZO 's proud of being proud ;
And dreams himself ascending in his fall.

An eminence, though fancy'd, turns the brain ;
All vice wants hellebore ; but of all vice,
Pride loudest calls, and for the largest bowl, 515

Because, all other vice unlike, it flies,


In fact, the point, in fancy most pursu'd.

Who court applause, oblige the world in this ;

They gratify Man's passion to refuse.

Superior honour, when assum'd, is lost ; 520

Ev'n good men turn banditti, and rejoice,

Like Kouli-Kan, in plunder of the proud.

Though somewhat disconcerted, steady still
To the world's cause, with half a face of joy,
LORENZO cries " Be, then, Ambition cast j 525
Ambition's dearer far stands unimpeach'd,
Gay Pleasure ! Proud Ambition is her slave ;
For her, he soars at great, and hazards ill j
For her, he rights, and bleeds, or overcomes ; 529
And paves his way, with crowns, to reach her smile :
Who can resist her charms?" Or should, LORENZO?
What mortal shall resist, where angels yield ?
Pleasure 's the mistress of ethereal pow'rs ;
For her contend the rival gods above ;
Pleasure's the mistress of the world below ; 535

And well it is for Man, that Pleasure charms ;
How would all stagnate, but for Pleasure's ray !
How would the frozen stream of action cease !
What is the pulse of this so busy world?
The love of Pleasure : That, through every vein, 540
Throws motion, warmth ; and shuts out death from life.

Though various are the tempers of mankind,
Pleasure's gay family holds all in chains :
Some most affect the black ; and some the fair ;
Some honest pleasures court ; and some, obscene. 545
Pleasures obscene are various, as the throng
Of passions, that can err in human hearts ;
Mistake their objects, or transgress their bounds.


Think you there's but one whoredom ? Whoredom, all,
But when our Reason licenses delight. 550

Dost doubt, LORENZO ? Thou shalt doubt no more.
Thy father chides thy gallantries ; yet hugs
An ugly, common harlot in the dark j
A rank adulterer with others' gold ;
And that hag, Vengeance, in a corner, charms. 555
Hatred her brothel has, as well as Love,
Where horrid epicures debauch in blood.
Whate'er the motive, Pleasure is the mark :
"For her, the black assassin draws his sword ;
For her, dark statesmen trim their midnight lamp,
To which no single sacrifice may fall ; 5^

For her, the saint abstains ; the miser starves ;
The stoic proud, for pleasure, Pleasure scorn'd j
For her, Affliction's daughters grief indulge,
And find, or hope, a luxury in tears ; 565

For her, guilt, shame, toil, danger, we defy ;
And, with an aim voluptuous, rush on death.
Thus universal her despotic pow'r.

And as her empire wide, her praise is just.
Patron of pleasure ! doter on delight ! 57

I am thy rival ; Pleasure I profess ;
Pleasure 's the purpose of my gloomy song.
Pleasure is nought but Virtue's gayer name ;
I wrong her still, I rate her worth too low ;
Virtue the root, and Pleasure is the flow'r j 575

And honest Epicurus' foes were fools.

But this sounds harsh, and gives the wise offence ;
If o'erstrain'd wisdom ^till retains the name.
How knits Austerity her cloudy brow,
And blames, as bold, and hazardous, the praise 580



Of Pleasure, to Mankind, unprais'd, too dear !

Ye modern stoics ! hear my soft reply :

Their senses men will trust : We can't impose j

Or, if we could, is imposition right ?

Own honey sweet; but, owning, add this sting ; 585

" When mix'd with poison, it is deadly too.' 1

Truth never was indebted to a lie.

Is nought but Virtue to be prais'd, as good ?

Why then is health preferred before disease ?

What Nature loves is good, without our leave. 590

And where no future drawback cries, " Beware,*'

Pleasure, though not from Virtue, should prevail.

'T is balm to life, and gratitude to Heav'n -,

How cold our thanks for bounties unenjoy'd !

The Love of Pleasure is Man's eldest-born, 595

Born in his cradle, living to his tomb ;

Wisdom, her younger sister, though more grave,

Was meant to minister, and not to mar,

Imperial Pleasure, queen of human hearts.

LORENZO ! thou her majesty's renown'd, 600

Though uncoift, counsel, learned in the world !
Who think'st thyself a Murray, with disdain
May'st look on me. Yet, my Demosthenes !
Canst thou plead Pleasure's cause as well as I ?
Know'st thou her nature, purpose, parentage ? 605
Attend my song, and thou shalt know them all ;
And know thyself j and know thyself to be
(Strange truth !) the most abstemious man alive.
Tell not Calista ; she will laugh thee dead ;
Or send thee to her hermitage with L - : 610

Absurd presumption ! thou, who never knew'st
A serious thought ! shalt thou dare dream of joy?


No man e'er found a happy life by chance j

Or yawn'd it into being, with a wish ;

Or, with the snout of grov'ling Appetite, 615

E'er smelt it out, and grubb'd it from the dirt.

An art it is, and must be learnt ; and learnt

With unremitting effort, or be lost ;

And leave us perfect blockheads, in our bliss.

The clouds may drop down titles and estates ; 620

Wealth may seek us ; but Wisdom must be sought ;

Sought before all ; but (how unlike all else

We seek on earth!] 'tis never sought in vain.

First,Pleasure's birth, rise, strength, and grandeur, see:
Brought forth by Wisdom, nurst by Discipline, 625
By Patience taught, by Perseverance crown'd,
She rears her head majestic ; round her throne, ,
Erected in the bosom of the just,
Each Virtue, listed, forms her manly guard.
For what are Virtues ? (formidable name !) 630

What, but the fountain, or defence, of joy ?
Why, then, commanded ? Need mankind commands^
At once to merit, and to make, their bliss ?
Great Legislator ! scarce so great, as kind !
If men are rational, and love delight, 635

Thy gracious law but flatters human choice ;
In the transgression lies the penalty ;
And they the most indulge, who most obey.

Of Pleasure, next, the final cause explore ;
Its mighty purpose, its important end. 640

Not to turn human, brutal, but to build
Divine on human, Pleasure came from Heav'n.
In aid to Reason was the goddess sent ;
To call up all its strength by such a charm.
G G 2


Pleasure, first, succours Virtue ; in return, 645

Virtue gives Pleasure an eternal reign.

What, but the pleasure of food, friendship, faith,

Supports life nat'ral, civil, and divine ?

'T is from the pleasure of repast, we live,

'T is from the pleasure of applause, we please ; 650

'T is from the pleasure of belief, we pray j

(All pray'r would cease, if unbeliev'd the prize :)

It serves ourselves, our species, and our God ;

And to serve more, is past the sphere of Man.

Glide then, for ever, Pleasure's sacred stream ! 655

Through Eden, as Euphrates ran, it runs,

And fosters ev'ry growth of happy life ;

Makes a new Eden where it flows but such

As must be lost, LORENZO ! by thy fall.

" What mean I by thy fall ?" Thou'lt shortly see,
While Pleasure's nature is at large display 'd ; 66 1
Already sung her origin and ends.
Those glorious ends, by kind, or by degree,
When Pleasure violates, 'tis then a vice,
And vengeance too ; it hastens into pain : 665

From due refreshment, life, health, reason, joy ;
Prom wild excess, pain, grief, distraction, death ;
Heav'n's justice this proclaims ; and that, her love.
What greater evil can I wish my foe,
Than his full draught of pleasure, from a cask 670
Unbroach'd by just authority, ungaug'd
* c By Temperance, by Reason unrefin'd ?
A thousand daemons lurk within the lee.
Heav'n, others, and ourselves ! uninjur'd these,
Drink deep ; the deeper, then, the more divine j 675
Angels are angels from indulgence there j


'T is unrepenting pleasure makes a god.

Dost think thyself a god from other joys ?
A victim rather ! shortly sure to bleed.
The wrong must mourn : CanHeav'n's appointments fail ?
Can Man outwit Omnipotence ? strike out 68 1

A self-wrought happiness unmeant by Him
Who made us, and the world we should enjoy ?
Who forms an instrument, ordains from whence
Its dissonance, or harmony, shall rise. 685

Heav'n bid the soul this mortal frame inspire j
Bid Virtue's ray divine inspire the soul
With unprecarious flows of vital joy ;
And, without breathing, Man as well might hope
For life, as, without piety, for peace. 690

" Is Virtue, then, and Piety the same ?"
No : Piety is more ; 't is Virtue's source ;
Mother of ev'ry worth, as that, of joy.
Men of the world this doctrine ill digest ;
They smile at Piety ; yet boast aloud 695

Good-will to men ; nor know they strive to part
What ^ature joins ; and thus confute themselves.
With Piety begins all good on earth ;
'T is the first born of Rationality.
Conscience, her first law broken, wounded lies ; 700
Enfeebled, lifeless, impotent to good ;
A feign'd affection bounds her utmost pow'r.
Some we can't love, but for th' ALMIGHTY'S sake j
A foe to GOD was ne'er true friend to Man :
Some sinister intent taints all he does ; 705

And, in his kindest actions, he's unkind.

On Piety, humanity is built ;
And, on humanity, much happiness ;


And yet still more on Piety itself.

A soul in commerce with her GOD, is heav'n ; 710

Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life ;

The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart.

A Deity believ'd, is joy begun ;

A Deity ador'd, is joy advanc'd ;

A Deity belov'd, is joy matured. 715

Each branch of Piety delight inspires ;

Faith builds a bridge from this world to the next,

O'er Death's dark gulph, and all its horror hides ;

Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,

That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still ; 720

Pray'r ardent opens heav'n, lets down a stream

Of glory on the consecrated hour

Of Man, in audience with the Deity.

Who worships the great GOD, that instant joins

The first in heav'n, and sets his foot on hell. 725

LORENZO ! when wast thou at church before ?
Thou think'st the service long : But is it just ?
Though just, unwelcome : Thou hadst rather tread
Unhallow'd ground ; the muse, to win thine ear,
Must take an air less solemn. She complies. 730
Good conscience ! at the sound the world retires j
Verse disaffects it, and LORENZO smiles ;
Yet has she her seraglio full of charms ;
And such as age shall heighten, not impair.
Art thou dejected ? Is thy mind o'ercast ? 735

Amid her fair ones, thou the fairest chuse,
To chase thy gloom. " Go, fix some weighty truth ;
Chain down some passion ; do some gen'rous good j
Teach Ignorance to see, or Grief to smile ;
Correct thy friend j befriend thy greatest foe j 740


Or with warm heart, and confidence divine,
Spring up, and lay strong hold on Him who made thee."
Thy gloom is scatter'd, sprightly spirits flow ;
Though wither'd is thy vine, and harp unstrung.

Dost call the bowl, the viol, and the dance, 745
Loud mirth, mad laughter ? wretched comforters !
Physicians ! more than half of thy disease.
Laughter, though never censur'd yet as sin
(Pardon a thought that only seems severe),
Is half-immoral : Is it much indulged ? 750

By venting spleen, or dissipating thought,
It shews a scorner, or it makes a fool ;
And sins, as hurting others, or ourselves.
3 T is pride, or emptiness, applies the straw,
That tickles little minds to mirth effuse ; 755

Of grief approaching, the portentous sign !
The house of laughter makes a house of woe.
A Man triumphant is a monstrous sight ;
A Man dejected is a sight as mean.
What cause for triumph, where such ills abound ?
What for dejection, where presides a Pow'r, 76"!

Who call'd us into being to be blest ?
So grieve, as conscious, grief may rise to joy ;
So joy, as conscious, joy to grief may fall.
Most true, a wise man never will be sad ; 765

But neither will sonorous, bubbling mirth,
A shallow stream of happiness betray :
Too happy to be sportive, he's serene.

Yet wouldst though laugh (but at thy own expense),
This counsel strange should I presume to give 779
" Retire, and read thy bible, to be gay."
There truths abound of sov'reign aid to peace ;


Ah ! do not prize them less, because inspir'd,

As thou, and thine, are apt and proud to do.

If not inspir'd, that pregnant page had stood, 775

Time's treasure, and the wonder of the wise !

Thou think'st, perhaps, thy soul alone at stake ;

Alas ! should men mistake thee for a fool ;

What man of taste for genius, wisdom, truth,

Though tender of thy fame, could interpose? 780

Believe me, Sense., here, acts a double part,

And the true critic is a Christian too.

But these, thou think'st, are gloomy paths to joy.

True joy in sunshine ne'er was found at first ;

They, first, themselves offend, who greatly please ;

And travel only gives us sound repose. 786

Heav'n sells all pleasure j effort is the price ;

The joys of conquest, are the joys of Man j

And Glory the victorious laurel spreads

O'er Pleasure's pure, perpetual, placid 'stream. 790

There is a time, when toil must be preferr'd,
Or joy, by mis-tim'd fondness, is undone.
A man of pleasure is a man of pains.
Thou wilt not take the trouble to be blest.
False joys, indeed, are born from want of thought;
From thought's full bent, and energy, the truej 796
And that demands a mind in equal poize,
Remote from gloomy grief, and glaring joy.
Much joy not only speaks small happiness,
But happiness that shortly must expire. 800

Can joy, unbottom'd in reflection, stand ?
And, in a tempest, can reflection live?
Can joy, like thine, secure itself an hour ?
Can joy, like thine, meet accident unshock'd ?


Or ope the door to honest Poverty ? 805

Or talk with threat'ning Death, and not turn pale ?
In such a world, and such a nature, these
Are needful fundamentals of delight :
These fundamentals give delight indeed j t
Delight, pure, delicate, and durable ; 810

Delight, unshaken, masculine, divine ;
A constant, and a sound, but serious joy.

Is Joy the daughter of Seventy ?
It is : Yet far my doctrine from severe.
" Rejoice for ever :" It becomes a Man ; 81 j

Exalts, and sets him nearer to the gods.
" Rejoice for ever," Nature cries, " Rejoice ;"
And drinks to Man in her nectareous cup,
Mix'd up of delicates for ev'ry sense ;
To the great Founder of the bounteous feast, 820
Drinks glory, gratitude, eternal praise ;
And he that will not pledge her, is a churl.
Ill firmly to support, good fully taste,
Is the whole science of felicity :

Yet sparing pledge : Her bowl is not the best 825
Mankind can boast. " A rational repast y
Exertion, vigilance, a mind in arms,
A military discipline of thought,
To foil temptation in the doubtful field ;
And ever- waking ardour for the right ;" 830

*T is these, first give, then guard, a cheerful heart.
Nought that is right, think little ; well aware,
What Reason bids, GOD bids ; by his command
How aggrandiz'd, the smallest thing we do !
Thus, nothing is insipid to the wise ; 835

To thee, insipid all, but what is mad j



Joys season'd high, and tasting strong of guilt.

" Mad ! (thou reply'st, with indignation fir'd) ;
Of ancient sages proud to tread the steps,
I follow Nature." Follow Nature still, 840

But look it be thine own : Is Conscience, then,
No part of Nature ? Is she not supreme ?
Thou regicide ! O raise her from the dead !
Then, follow Nature ; and resemble GOD.

When, spite of Conscience, Pleasure is pursu'cf,
Man's nature is unnaturally pleas'd : 846

And what's unnatural, is painful too
At intervals, and must disgust ev'n thee !
The fact thou know'st ; but not, perhaps, the cause.
Virtue's foundations with the world's were laid ; 850
Heav*n mix'd her with our make, and twisted close
Her sacred int'rests with the strings of life.
Who breaks her awful mandate, shocks himself,
His better self : And is it greater pain,
Our soul should murmur, or our dust repine ? 855
And one, in their eternal war, must bleed.

If one must suffer, which should least be spar'd ?
The pains of mind surpass the pains of sense.
Ask, then, the gout, what torment is in guilt.
The joys of sense to mental joys are mean : 863

Sense on the present only feeds ; the soul
On past, and future, forages for joy.
*T is her's, by retrospect, through time to range ;
And forward time's great sequel to survey.
Could human courts take vengeance on the mind, 865
Axes might rust, and racks, and gibbets, fall :
Guard, then, thy mind, and leave the rest to fate.

LORENZO ! wilt thou never be a Man ?


The man is dead, who for the body lives,

LurM, by the beating of his pulse, to list 870

With ev'ry lust, that wars against his peace;

And sets him quite at variance with himself.

Thyself, first know ; then love : A self there is

Of Virtue fond, that kindles at her charms.

A self there is, as fond of ev'ry vice, 875

While ev'ry virtue wounds it to the heart ;

Humility degrades it, Justice robs,

Blest Bounty beggars it, fair Truth betrays,

And godlike Magnanimity destroys.

This self, when rival to the former, scorn ; 880

When not in competition, kindly treat,

Defend it, feed it : But when Virtue bids,

Toss it, or to the fowls, or to the flames.

And why? 'Tis love of pleasure bids thee bleed;

Comply, or own self-love extinct, or blind. 885

For what is Vice ? Self-love in a mistake ;
A poor blind merchant buying joys too dear.
And Virtue, what ? 'T is self-love in her wits,
Quite skilful in the market of delight.
Self-love's good sense is love of that dread Pow*r, 890
From whom she springs, and all she can enjoy.
Other self-love is but disguis'd self-hate ;
More mortal than the malice of our foes ;
A self-hate, now, scarce felt ; then felt full-sore,
When being curst, extinction loud-implor'd ; 895
And ev'ry thing preferred to what we are.

Yet this self-love LORENZO makes his choice;
And, in this choice triumphant, boasts of joy.
How is his want of happiness betrayed,
By disaffection to the present hour ! 900

H H 2


Imagination wanders far a-field :

The future pleases : Why ? The present pains.

" But that 's a secret." Yes, which all men know ;

And know from thee, discover'd unawares.

Thy ceaseless agitation restless rolls 905

From cheat to che^t, impatient of a pause ;

What is it ? 'T is the cradle of the soul,

From Instinct sent, to rock her in disease,

Which her physician, Reason, will not cure.

A poor expedient ! yet thy best; and while 910

It mitigates thy pain, it owns it too.

Such are LORENZO'S wretched remedies !

The weak have remedies ; the wise have joys.

Superior wisdom is superior bliss.

And what sure mark distinguishes the wise? 915

Consistent wisdom ever wills the same ;

Thy fickle wish is ever on the wing.

Sick of herself, is Folly's character ;

As Wisdom's is, a, modest self-applause.

A change of evils is thy good supreme ; 920

Nor, but in motion, canst thou find thy rest.

Man's greatest strength is shewn in standing still*

The first sure symptom of a mind in health,

Is rest at heart, and pleasure felt at home.

False Pleasure from abroad her joys imports ; 925

Rich from within, and self-sustain'd, the true*

The true is fix'd, and solid as a rock ;

Slipp'ry the false, and tossing as the wave,

This, a wild wanderer on earth, like Cain j

That, like the fabled, self-enamour'd boy, 930

Home-contemplation her supreme delight ;

She dreads an interruption from without,


Smit with her own condition ; and the more
Intense she gazes, still it charms the more.

No man is happy, till he thinks, on earth 935

There breathes not a more happy than himself:
Then envy dies, and love o'erflows on all ;
And love overflowing makes an angel here.
Such angels all, entitled to repose
On Him who governs fate : Tho* tempest frowns, 940
Though Nature shakes, how soft to lean on Heav'n !
To lean on Him, on whom archangels lean !
With inward eyes, and silent as the grave,
They stand collecting ev'ry beam of thought,
Till their hearts kindle with divine delight ; 945

For all their thoughts, like angels, seen of old
In Israel's dream, come from, and go to heav'n :
Hence, are they studious of sequest'red scenes ;
While noise, and dissipation, comfort thee.

Were all men happy, revellings would cease, 950
That opiate for inquietude within.
LORENZO ! never man was truly blest,
But it composed, and gave him such a cast,
As Folly might mistake for want of joy.
A cast, unlike the triumph of the proud ; 955

A modest aspect, and a smile at heart.
O for a joy from thy PHILANDER'S spring !
A spring perennial, rising in the breast,
And permanent, as pure ! no turbid stream
Of rapt'rous exultation, swelling high ; 960

Which, like land-floods, impetuous pour awhile,
Then sink at once, and leave us in the mire.
What does the man, who transient joy prefers ? .
What, but prefer the bubbles to the stream , ?


Vain are all sudden sallies of delight ; 965

Convulsions of a weak distemper'd joy.
Joy 's a fix'd state ; a tenure, not a start.
Bliss there is none, but unprecarious bliss :
That is the gem : Sell all, and purchase that.
Why go a-begging to contingencies, 970

Not gain'd with ease, nor safely lov'd, if gain'd ?
At good fortuitous, draw back, and pause ;
Suspect it ; what thou canst ensure, enjoy ;
And nought but what thou giv'st thyself, is sure.
Reason perpetuates joy that reason gives, 975

And makes it as immortal as herself :
To mortals, nought immortal, but their worth.

Worth, conscious worth ! should absolutely reign j
And other joys ask leave for their approach ;
Nor, unexamin'd, ever leave obtain. 980

Thou art all anarchy ; a mob of 'joys
Wage war, and perish in intestine broils ;
Not the least promise of internal peace !
No bosom-comfort ! or unborrow'd bliss ! 984

Thy thoughts are vagabonds : All outward-bound,
'Mid sands, and rocks, and storms, to cruise for pleasure j
If gain'd, dear-bought ; and better miss'd than gain'd.
Much pain must expiate what much pain procured.
Fancy, and Sense, from an infected shore,
Thy cargo bring ; and pestilence the prize. 990

Then, such thy thirst, (insatiable thirst !
By fond indulgence but inflam'd the more !)
Fancy still cruises, when poor Sense is tir'd.

Imagination is the Paphian shop,
Where feeble Happiness, like Vulcan, lame, 995

Bids foul ideas, in their dark recess,


And hot as hell (which kindled the black fires),
With wanton art, those fatal arrows form,
Which murder all thy time, health, wealth, and fame.
Wouldst thou receive them, other thoughts there are,
On angel-wing, descending from above, tool

Which these, with art divine, would counterwork,
And form celestial armour for thy peace.

In this is seen Imagination 's guilt ;
But who can count her follies? She betrays thee, 1005
To think in grandeur there is something great.
For works of curious art, and ancient fame,
Thy genius hungers, elegantly pain'd ;
And foreign climes must cater for thy taste.
Hence, what disaster ! tho' the price was paid, 1010
That persecuting priest, the Turk of Rome,
Whose foot (ye gods !) though cloven, must be kiss'd,

Detain'd thy dinner on the Latian shore j
(Such is the fate of honest Protestants !)

And poor Magnificence is starv'd to death. 1015

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Online LibraryEdward YoungNight thoughts on life, death and immortality → online text (page 14 of 24)