EGOTISM. A Letter to J. T. Becher
( First published in 1898 )
If Fate should seal my Death to-morrow,
( Though much I hope she will postpone it, )
I've held a share of Joy and Sorrow,
Enough for Ten; and here I own
I've liv'd as many other men live,
And yet, I think, with more enjoyment;
For could I through my days again live,
I'd pass them in the same employment.
That is to say, with some exception,
For though I will not make confession,
I've seen too much of man's deception
Ever again to trust profession.
Some sage Mammas with gesture haughty,
Pronounce me quite a youthful Sinner ---
But Daughters say, "although he's naughty,
You must not check a Young Beginner ! "
I've lov'd, and many damsels know it ---
But whom I don't intend to mention,
As certain stanzas also show it,
Some say deserving Reprehension.
Some ancient Dames, of virtue fiery,
( Unless Report does much belie them, )
Have lately made a sharp Enquiry,
And much it grieves me to deny them.
Two whom I lov'd had eyes of Blue,
To which I hope you've no objection;
The Rest had eyes of darker Hue ---
Each Nymph, of course, was all perfection.
But here I'll close my chaste Description,
Nor say the deeds of animosity;
For silence is the best prescription,
To physic idle curiosity.
Of Friends I've known a goodly Hundred ---
For finding one in each acquaintance,
By some deceiv'd, by others plunder'd,
Friendship, to me, was not Repentance.
At School I though like other Children;
Instead of Brains, a fine Ingredient,
Romance, my youthful Head bewildering,
To Sense had made me disobedient.
A victim, nearly from affection,
To certain very precious scheming,
The still remaining recollection
Has cured my boyish soul of Dreaming.
By Heaven ! I rather would forswear
The Earth, and all the joys reserv'd me,
Than dare again the specious Snare,
From which my Fate and Heaven preserv'd me.
Still I possess some Friends who love me ---
In each a much-esteem'd and true one;
The Wealth of Worlds shall never move me
To quit their Friendship, for a new one.
But, Becher ! you're a reverend pastor,
Now take it in consideration,
Whether for penance I should fast, or
Pray for my sins in expiation.
I owe myself the child of Folly,
But not so wicked as they make me ---
I soon must die of melancholy,
If Female smiles should e'er forsake me.
Philosophers have never doubted,
That Ladies' Lips were made for kisses !
For Love ! I could not live without it,
For such a curséd place as This is.
Say, Becher, I shall be forgiven !
If you don't warrant my salvation,
I must resign all Hopes of Heaven !
For, Faith, I can't withstand Temptation.