A merchant, trading o′er the seas,
Became enriched by every trip.
No gulf nor rock destroyed his ease;
He lost no goods, from any ship.
To others came misfortunes sad,
For Fate and Neptune had their will.
Fortune for him safe harbours had;
His servants served with zeal and skill.
He sold tobacco, sugar, spices,
Silks, porcelains, or what you please;
Made boundless wealth (this phrase suffices),
And "lived to clutch the golden keys."
′Twas luxury that gave him millions:
In gold men almost talked to him.
Dogs, horses, carriages, postillions,
To give this man seemed Fortune′s whim.
A Friend asked how came all this splendour:
"I know the ′nick of time,′" he said,
"When to be borrower and lender:
My care and talent all this made."
His profit seemed so very sweet,
He risked once more his handsome gains;
But, this time, baffled was his fleet:
Imprudent, he paid all the pains.
One rotten ship sank ′neath a storm,
And one to watchful pirates fell;
A third, indeed, made port in form,
But nothing wanted had to sell.
Fortune gives but one chance, we know:
All was reversed,—his servants thieves.
Fate came upon him with one blow,
And made the mark that seldom leaves.
The Friend perceived his painful case.
"Fortune, alas!" the merchant cries.
"Be happy," says his Friend, "and face
The world, and be a little wise."
"To counsel you is to give health:
I know that all mankind impute
To Industry their peace and wealth,
To Fortune all that does not suit."
Thus, if each time we errors make,
That bring us up with sudden halt,
Nothing′s more common than to take
Our own for Fate or Fortune′s fault.
Our good we always make by force,
The evil fetters us so strong;
For we are always right, of course,
And Destiny is always wrong.