"O treacherous Conscience! while she seems to sleep / On rose and myrtle, lull'd with siren song; / While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to drop / On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein, / And give us up to licence, unrecall'd, / Unmark'd,---see, from behind her secret stand, / The sly informer minutes every fault, / And her dread diary with horror fills."
— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)
On rose and myrtle, lull'd with siren song;
While she seems, nodding o'er her charge, to drop
On headlong appetite the slacken'd rein,
And give us up to licence, unrecall'd,
Unmark'd,---see, from behind her secret stand,
The sly informer minutes every fault,
And her dread diary with horror fills.
Not the gross act alone employs her pen;
She reconnoitres Fancy's airy band,
A watchful foe! the formidable spy,
Listening, o'erhears the whispers of our camp;
Our dawning purposes of heart explores,
And steals our embryos of iniquity.
As all-rapacious usurers conceal
Their Doomsday-book from all-consuming heirs;
Thus, with indulgence most severe, she treats
Us spendthrifts of inestimable time;
Unnoted, notes each moment misapplied;
In leaves more durable than leaves of brass,
Writes our whole history; which Death shall read
In every pale delinquent's private ear;
And Judgment publish; publish to more worlds
Than this; and endless Age in groans resound.
Lorenzo, such that sleeper in thy breast!
Such is her slumber; and her vengeance such
For slighted counsel; such thy future peace!
And think'st thou still thou canst be wise too soon?
(ll. 256-283, pp. 57-8 in CUP edition)
Edward Young, Night the Second. On Time, Death, Friendship. Humbly Inscrib'd to the Right Honourable The Earl of Wilmington (London: Printed for R. Dodsley, 1742).
Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books> Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).