American Magazine

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Utrum horum Mavis, elige.

LET sage discretion the gay world
Let dull philosophers o'er lamps grow wise,
Like bees their summer providently waste
And hoard that treasure which they ne'er
    shall taste;
Let statesmen court the bubble of applause
And staring cry for sumptuary laws;
Let peevish prelates in devotion kneel
And curse that pleasure which they try
    to feel;
Life is a blessing, use it as you can,
And the best purpose of that blessing scan
All human reason is no more than this,
To guide our footsteps in the realms of
While, as in drinking, so in life the will
Must bound our joy, and dictate what to
Live freely then; for if thy life offend
'Tis ne'er too late to alter and amend:
But should you hesitate the season's lost,
As backward fruits are subject to the frost.
Then if true spirit ev'ry hope inflame
Mark well the lesson of my proffer'd fame.

   First trace the limits of thy destin'd
Here rest thy wisdom, thine ambition here.
'Tis not each clown that triumphs, tho'
    he dare
Aspire to charm and captivate the fair;
'Tis not each witling who the ape dis-
That strikes our fancy or provokes our
But would you sin, be sinful with a grace—
Inaptitude can even vice debase.
Search then your genius, every bent sur-
And where she prompts be ready to obey.
See thro' this crowd where brilliant pros-
    pects rise,
The chace how luring, and how rare the
The paths of pleasure to no bounds con-
As in their shape, are various in their
Fix then thy province, make thy talents
And be a sop, a gentleman or blood.

   Happy the first, who studious to dis-
With all the cumb'rous pedantry of sense,
Knows no ambition but the pride of dress;
And for that toy can ev'ry wish suppress:
Whose natal bounties like the fly's consist
In two short words, to flutter and exist;
If to such fame thine emulation turn,
Hear his pursuits; and from example learn.
—'Till ten the morn is squander'd in his
One precious hour's devoted to his head,
Another's finish'd ere his dress complete
From top to toe be critically neat—
Then he struts forth to greet his kindred
And urge some tardy tradesman for his
Or mid the town to saunter and to stare,
And kill an hour or two he knows not
In the noon's bustle vacant and serene,
He deals in bows, his business to be seen:
—Perhaps united to some fair he meets
From shop to shop pursues her thro' the
For the last fashions stimulates her pride,
And on the modes is zealous to decide.
Next his soil'd charms he hastens to re-
To give a finer polish to his hair,
His ev'ry grace with ev'ry art entwine,

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And form his looks more strikingly di-
Till the last noblest pastime of the day
To his bright zenith summons him away.
There in the circle of some coterie,
Rous'd by the exhilarating fumes of sea,
View him triumphant, with unrival'd
Attract each ogle, and each breast in-
To ev'ry sense a magic thrill impart,
And steal thro' all the mazes of the heart,
Next let us view the gentleman at ease,
Too rich to toil, too indolent to please;
Whose days unharass'd by desire or woe
In one smooth stream uninterrupted flow:
Born to no end, for no one purpose fit,
A load of vanity, a grain of wit,
Who, far remov'd from ev'ry worldly
Lives for himself, and sleeps away his

   If to the third thine happier choice in-
And thy warm genius as a blood would
Be the first caution in thy bold career
To shun low comrades and a vulgar
The great unpunish'd from their rank
But humbler culprits with the laws con-
Then if some revel or a midnight joke
Insult our slumbers, or the watch provoke,
Thy looks can wrest stern justice from the
Suspend her frowns and snatch thee from
    a jail.
Let dauntless spirit animate thy soul,
No fears restrain thee and no threats con-
Whether in hunting, at an arm's expence,
You dash a furious courser o'er a fence,
Or at the bottle be thy matchless boast,
To sit the longest, and to drink the most:
—So shall thy fame to wond'rous heights
And ev'ry rake shall hail thee as a friend.
—But, if thy soul such base ambition
And in thy breast a purer spirit burn,
Leave such poor laurels to the brows of
And place thy zeal in wisdom and in
Then in thy way, tho' mean temptation
The task discourage or the world despise,
Proceed—until the triumph of thy worth
That virtue is the surest best reward.
The sop, whose merits on his charms de-
May gain a mistress, but will lose a friend;
The blood will tell thee e'er he quit the
That joy of youth's the misery of age;
And the deluded idler with remorse
Will own a blessing what he fear'd a curse:
But he whose wisdom, such desires with-
Unites his pleasure with his greatest good,
Knows not misfortune tho' a fair one
His wealth escape him, and his friends
But, firm in what he is, in what he may be
Feels an unvaried sunshine in his breast.
New-York, May 10, 1788.

The counterpart, addressed to the fe-
male sex, is requested agreeably to the
promise of our ingenious correspondent.