1741
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

For Thinking. Against Thinking.

Universal Spectator and Weekly Journal (26 September 1741).

Anonymous


Companion poems, written in imitation of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. These poems rather wittily cross the characters of their prototypes, so that the solitary, pensive character becomes "L'Allegro": "All alone, more happy, I Bless my peaceful Privacy: | Nor am I ever less alone, | Than when my own Companion." His fellow, who seeks solace in company, is by contrast wracked with cares: "In such a Tumult, such a Noise, | Which all Power of Thought destroys, | There let my Mind some Moments gain | A short Relief from thoughtful Pain." In the latter context, the poet manages to take a swipe at Robert Walpole.

Headnote: "Sir, If the following contrasted Copies of Verses were publish'd in your Paper, it would oblige Your humble Servants, Tim. Thoughtfull, And Will. Thoughtless."



FOR THINKING.
Beneath some awful and sequester'd Shade,
For sacred Contemplation made;
Where Wisdom's Parent, Silence, dwells retir'd,
By whom the Human Soul's inspir'd;
With Love of Virtue, and of Freedom fraught,
To open all Herself, and grow Divine by Thought:

In such a Shade, in such a Place,
What Thought may be, there let me trace;
If Thinking gives us Joy or Pain?—
To Think, to Reason, What and How
Things are, and Why they became so;
To separate Objects, or unite,
Argue of which is Wrong or Right,
We Heav'n's peculiar Gall must own,
Given to Man, and Man alone;
Whom Worlds on Worlds cannot confine,
But grow on Earth almost Divine.

Hail! then, wond'rous Power, Hail!
May'st thou never, never fail
To shed all thy Force on me,
And my best Companion be;
Come along, and with thee bring
Joys, which never scepter'd King,
On his Regal Throne could find,
Bring me Truth and Peace of Mind.
Thou shalt be my constant Friend,
Tho' harsh Fate its Brow may bend;
Thou shalt, with a smiling Ray,
Chace the Clouds of Woe away:
Thou shalt whisper from my Breast,
My Soul is pure, and give it Rest.

Away, away ye noisy Throngs,
Lost in Revels, Masks and Songs,
Lost in Business, Toil and Care,
Lost in Dalliance with the Fair;
All alone, more happy, I
Bless my peaceful Privacy:
Nor am I ever less alone,
Than when my own Companion;
For my various Thoughts can be
Various Company to me.
I can change it as I will,
And be grave or merry still.—
Would I in a Frolick sport,
Pay a Visit to the Court,
In the Drawing-Room I stand,
'Mid' a glittering fawning Band,
Making Courtsies and Grimaces,
Begging Pensions, Posts or Places;
Praising, Flatt'ring and Reviling,
Beguil'd by Art, by Art Beguiling:
Fools of Show, of Power Knaves,
Solemn Nothings, Tinsell'd Slaves!
All in the Pomp of Majesty
I could there before me see;
And could, while the Scene I view,
Pity it, and scorn it too.

But if fond of nobler Things,
Than of Ministers or Kings,
I would strike a nobler Plan,
And Reason, as frail Reason can,
On the Ways of God to Man;
Through the Empyreal Sky,
I could a Jacob's Ladder find
To Heav'n's Height to raise my Mind;
There find th' Almighty's Power too great
For Man to think, or to relate:
And while that I contemplate more,
The more that Power I adore;
Confessing, as confess I must,
The Ways of God to Man are just.

Come then, Thought, Power confess'd,
To distinguish Man from Beast,
Thy Prerogative I own,
Come and make thy Influence known.
All Allurements give you Place,
Thou my Life with Joy can Grace,
Thou my Life with Joy can Crown,
Death's Terrors Thou dispell'st, and Thou alone.

AGAINST THINKING.
In the loud Din of Midnight Masquerade,
For Vacancy of Thinking made,
Where Vices Parent Luxury resides,
And all the loosest Passions guides.
By whom the Soul with Revel Tumult fraught
Opens herself to Lust, and Brutal grows by Thought!

In such a Tumult, such a Noise,
Which all Power of Thought destroys,
There let my Mind some Moments gain
A short Relief from thoughtful Pain:—
To think — will shock my Soul far more
Than loudest Billows when they roar,
Than the most hideous Thunder-cracks:
Thoughts, intolerable racks,
All like Furies round me stand
Each a Torch bears in her Hand.
These the Torments that I find,
The Torments of a Guilty Mind.

Hail! Oblivion! hail to Thee!
Foe to Thought and Memory:
As to Thee I have Recourse,
Shew thy utmost Pow'r and Force:
Come along and with Thee bring
Joys oft' wish'd for by a King.
Bring Oblivion, bring Relief,
Memory's the Life of Grief.
Thou to ease my Nights and Days,
Thou shall bring it thousand Ways;
Thou shall bid me deeply quaff,
And o'er high-fill'd Brimmers laugh,
Thou shalt prove that Wine can be
Better than Lethe's Stream to me.
Come, then come, you jolly Train,
Who of Thought would fly the Pain.
Lost in Musick, Dance, and Songs,
Lost in modern Midnight Throngs,
Lost in Joys o' th' am'rous Fair,
Free from Business, free from Care,
We will prove, that we alone
Have of Life the Pleasure known;
And though stoic Blockheads rave,
Forgetfulness is Sorrow's Grave.
By various Ways, just as we will,
We are gay, and frolick still.

Soon as rid of Duns at Morn
W—'s Levee we adorn:
In a Circle round we stand
All a laughing, courteous Band.
Praise the present State o' th' Nation
From the wise Ad—ni—ation;
Nor the least Remembrance show
Of what F—ce does, or may do;
And as wisely we forget
With our own, the Nation's Debt.
We forget the Patriot Rout,
Who would bring strange Things about;
Forget what they say is true,
Pity them, and scorn them too.

But if from low and mortal Things,
Courts of Ministers and Kings,
My Mind e'er a Torture feels,
What Life at its end reveals,
Down my aching Head I lay
To sleep all those Thoughts away;
Sleep has not Power to expel
These Anguishes, this Bosom-Hell.

Come, Oblivion, peaceful Pow'r,
Preside over every Hour,
Not one Day, or one Hour past,
Let me think on to my last;
Ah! but when the last shall come,
Canst thou then my fatal Doom,
By thy utmost Pow'r, conceal?
Thought then its Pow'r will reveal,
Then I fear that I must own
Thou art Man's greatest Foe, and Thou alone.

[unpaginated]