Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749

Let Observation with extensive View,

Survey Mankind, from China to Peru;

Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,

And watch the busy Scenes of crouded Life;

Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,

O’er spread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,

Where wav’ring Man, betray’d by vent’rous Pride,

To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;

As treach’rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,

Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.

How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,

Rules the bold Hand, or prompts the suppliant Voice,

How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppres’d,

When Vengeance listens to the Fool’s Request.

Fate wings with ev’ry Wish th’ afflictive Dart,

Each Gift of Nature, and each Grace of Art,

With fatal Heat impetuous Courage glows,

With fatal Sweetness Elocution flows,

Impeachment stops the Speaker’s pow’rful Breath,

And restless Fire precipitates on Death.”

via Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749.

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