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If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,
From me by strong assault it is bereft.
My honey lost, and I, a drone-like bee,
Have no perfection of my summer left,
But robb’d and ransack'd by injurious theft:
In thy weak hive a wandering wasp hath crept,
And suck'd the honey which thy chaste bee kept.
Yet am I guiltless of thy honour's wreck;
Yet for thy honour did I entertain him ;
Coming from thee, I could not put him back,
For it had been dishonour to disdain him :
Besides of weariness he did complain him,
And talk'd of virtue:-0 unlook'd for evil,
When virtue is prophan'd in such a devil!
Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
Or hateful cuckows hatch in sparrows' nests?
Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts ?
Or kings be breakers of their own behests ?
But no perfection is so absolute,
That some impurity doth not pollute.
The aged man that coffers
Is plagu'd with cramps, and gouts, and painful fits,
And scarce hath eyes his treasure to behold,
But like still-pining Tantalus he fits,
And useless barns the harvest of his wits
Having no other pleasure of his gain,
But torment that it cannot cure his pain.
So then he hath it when he cannot use it,
And leaves it to be master'd by his young ;
Who in their pride do presently abuse it:
Their father was too weak, and they too strong,
To hold their cursed-blessed fortune long.
The sweets we wish for turn to loathed sours,
Even in the moment that we call them ours.
Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers ;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds fing;
What virtue breeds, iniquity devours :
We have no good that we can say is ours,
But ill-annexed opportunity
Or kills his life, or else his quality.
O Opportunity! thy guilt is great :
'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason;
Thou set'st the wolf where he the lamb may get;
Whoever plots the fin, thou point'st the season;
'Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason ;
And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him.
Thou mak'st the vestal violate her oath;
Thou blow'st the fire when temperance is thaw'd;
Thou smother'ft honesty, thou murder'st troth ;
Thou foul abettor! thou notorious bawd !
Thou plantest scandal, and displaceft laud:
Thou ravisher, thou traitor, thou false thief,
Thy honey turns to gall, thy joy to grief !
Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
Thy private feasting to a publick fast;
Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name ;
Thy sugar'd tongue to bitter wormwood taste:
Thy violent vanities can never last.
How comes it then, vile opportunity,
Being so bad, fuch numbers seek for thee?
When wilt thou be the humble suppliant's friend,
And bring him where his suit may be obtained?
When wilt thou fort an hour great ftrifes to end?
Or free that foul which wretchedness hath chained?
Give physick to the sick, ease to the pained ?
The poor, lame, blind, halt, creep, cry out for thee ;
But they ne'er meet with opportunity.
The patient dies while the physician sleeps ;
The orphan pines while the oppressor feeds ;
Justice is feasting while the widow weeps;
Advice is sporting while infection breeds;
Thou grant'st no time for charitable deeds:
Wrath, envy, treason, rape, and murder's rages,
Thy heinous hours wait on them as their pages.
When Truth and Virtue have to do with thee,
A thousand crosses keep them from thy aid
They buy thy help: but Sin ne'er gives a fee,
He gratis comes; and thou art well appay'd
As well to hear as grant what he hath faid.
My Collatine would else have come to me
When. Tarquin did, but he was stay'd by thee.
Guilty thou art of murder and of theft;
Guilty of perjury and subornation ;
Guilty of treason, forgery, and shift;
Guilty of incest, that abomination:
An accessary by thine inclination
To all fins past, and all that are to come,
From the creation to the general doom.
Milhapen Time, copesmate of ugly night,
Swift subtle poft, carrier of grisly care ;
Eater of youth, false fave to false delight,
Base watch of woes, fin's pack-horse, virtue's snare ;
Thou nurseft all, and murderest all that are.
O hear me then, injurious, shifting time!
Be guilty of my death, since of
Why hath thy servant, Opportunity,
Betray'd the hours thou gav'st me to repose ?
Cancel'd my fortunes, and enchained me
To endless date of never-ending woes?
Time's office is to fine the hate of foes;
To eat up error by opinion bred,
Not spend the dowry of a lawful bed.
Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falshood, and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn, and sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right;
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers :
To fill with worm-holes stately monuments,
To feed oblivion with decay of things,
To blot old books, and alter their contents,
To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings,
To dry the old oak’s sap, and cherish springs;
To spoil antiquities of hammer'd steel,
And turn the giddy round of fortune's wheel:
To fhew the beldame daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a child,
To slay the tyger that doth live by slaughter,
To tame the unicorn and lion wild ;
To mock the subtle, in themselves beguil'd;
To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
And waste huge stones with little water-drops.
Why work'st thou mischief in thy pilgrimage,
Unless thou could'st return to make amends?
One poor retiring minute in an age
Would purchase thee a thousand thousand friends,
Lending him wit, that to bad debtors lends :
O, this dread night, would'st thou one hour come back,
I could prevent this storm, and shun this wrack!
Thou ceaseless lackey to eternity,
With some mischance cross Tarquin in his flight:
Devise extremes beyond extremity,
To make him curse this cursed crimeful night :
Let ghastly shadows his lewd eyes affright;
And the dire thought of his committed evil
Shape every bush a hideous shapeless devil.