I’d have a clear and competent estate,
That I might live genteelly, but not great:
As much as I could moderately spend;
A little more, sometimes t’ oblige a friend.
Nor should the sons of poverty repine
At fortune’s frown, for they should taste of mine;
And all that objects of true pity were,
Should be relieved with what my wants could spare;
For what our Maker has too largely given,
Should be returned in gratitude to Heaven.
A frugal plenty should my table spread.
With healthy, not luxurious, dishes fed;
Enough to satisfy, and something more,
To feed the stranger, and the neighb’ring poor.
Strong meat indulges vice, and pampering food
Creates diseases, and inflames the blood.
But what’s sufficient to make nature strong,
And the bright lamp of life continue long,
I’d freely take, and as I did possess,
The bounteous Author of my plenty bless.
III. HIS HOSPITALITY AND TEMPERANCE
I’d have a little cellar, cool and
With humming ale and virgin wine replete.
Wine whets the wit, improves its native force,
And gives a pleasant flavour to discourse;
By making all our spirits debonair,
Throws off the lees and sediment of care.
But as the greatest blessing Heaven lends
May be debauched, and serve ignoble ends;
So, but too oft, the grape’s refreshing juice
Does many mischievous effects produce.
My house should no such rude disorders know,
As from high drinking consequently flow;
Nor would I use what was so kindly given,
To the dishonour of indulgent Heaven.
If any neighbour came, he should be free,
Used with respect, and not uneasy be,
In my retreat, or to himself or me.
What freedom, prudence, and right reason give,
All men may, with impunity, receive:
But the least swerving from their rules too much,
And what’s forbidden us, ’tis death to touch.
That life may be more comfortable yet,
And all my joys refined, sincere, and great;
I’d choose two friends, whose company would be
A great advance to my felicity:
Well-born, of humours suited to my own,
Discreet, that men as well as books have known;
Brave, generous, witty, and exactly free
From loose behaviour or formality;
Airy and prudent, merry but not light;
Quick in discerning; and in judging, right;
They should be secret, faithful to their trust,
In reasoning cool, strong, temperate, and just;
Obliging, open, without huffing, brave;
Brisk in gay talking, and in sober, grave;
Close in dispute, but not tenacious; tried
By solemn reason, and let that decide;