Study Guide

The Vanity of Human Wishes Stanza 21

By Samuel Johnson

Stanza 21

Lines 291-298

But grant, the virtues of a temp'rate prime
Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime;
An age that melts with unperceiv'd decay,
And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day Benevolence endears,
Whose night congratulating Conscience cheers;
The gen'ral fav'rite as the gen'ral friend:
Such age there is, and who shall wish its end?

  • The speaker says that it would be good to be granted the benefits of a moderate prime of life, one in which we're free from scorn and crime.
  • It would be good to have a life that moves forward without our bodies' apparent decay, one full of innocence.Ā 
  • The days and nights of this moderate life are also full of peace and benevolence and conscience. It's a life in which we're favored as friends. It's possible to live such a life, and the speaker asks, who would want such a life to end? Not us, that's who.

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