complaint of life
Note by A Milnes to As A Playwright a chapter of The Life Of Dryden

Contained in the following lines (Act iv, Scene 1), often quoted by Johnson, who used to say that he never passed that week of his life which he would wish to repeat were an angel to make the proposal to him. (Boswell, Life , anno 1770):—

When I consider Life, 'tis all a cheat,
Yet fooled with hope, men favour the deceit,
Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay:
To-morrow's falser than the former day;
Lies worse, and while it says we shall be blest
With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure from what still remain;
And from the dregs of life think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tired with waiting for this chemic gold,
Which fools us young and beggars us when old.'

'Chemic' is frequently thus used for base metal. Cf.—

'World, thou'rt a traitor, thou hast stamped thy base
And chemic metal with great Caesar's face.'— Quarles, Emblems , book ii. epigram 5.

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