Whither away so fast?
How should I know?
Methinks we should begin by taking counsel
|To see what can be done to meet the case.|
Im all worked up about that wretched box.
|More than all else it drives me to despair.|
That box must hide some mighty mystery?
Argas, my friend who is in trouble, brought it
|Himself, most secretly, and left it with me.|
|He chose me, in his exile, for this trust;|| 10|
|And on these documents, from what he said,|
|I judge his life and property depend.|
How could you trust them to anothers hands?
By reason of a conscientious scruple.
|I went straight to my traitor, to confide|| 15|
|In him; his sophistry made me believe|
|That I must give the box to him to keep,|
|So that, in case of search, I might deny|
|My having it at all, and still, by favour|
|Of this evasion, keep my conscience clear|| 20|
|Even in taking oath against the truth.|
Your case is bad, so far as I can see;
|This deed of gift, this trusting of the secret|
|To him, were bothto state my frank opinion|
|Steps that you took too lightly; he can lead you|| 25|
|To any length, with these for hostages;|
|And since he holds you at such disadvantage,|
|Youd be still more imprudent, to provoke him;|
|So you must go some gentler way about.|
What! Can a soul so base, a heart so false,
|Hide neath the semblance of such touching fervour?|
|I took him in, a vagabond, a beggar!
|Tis took much! No more pious folk for me!|
|I shall abhor them utterly forever,|
|And henceforth treat them worse than any devil.|| 35|
So! There you go again, quite off the handle!
|In nothing do you keep an even temper.|
|You never know what reason is, but always|
|Jump first to one extreme, and then the other.|
|You see your error, and you recognise|| 40|
|That youve been cozened by a feigned zeal;|
|But to make up fort, in the name of reason,|
|Why should you plunge into a worse mistake,|
|And find no difference in character|
|Between a worthless scamp, and all good people?|| 45|
|What! Just because a rascal boldly duped you|
|With pompous show of false austerity,|
|Must you needs have it everybodys like him,|
|And no ones truly pious nowadays?|
|Leave such conclusions to mere infidels;|| 50|
|Distinguish virtue from its counterfeit,|
|Dont give esteem too quickly, at a venture,|
|But try to keep, in this, the golden mean.|
|If you can help it, dont uphold imposture;|
|But do not rail at true devoutness, either;|| 55|
|And if you must fall into one extreme,|
|Then rather err again the other way.|