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WHATEVER is, is RIGHT. - This world, 'tis true,
“ But sometimes Virtue starves, while Vice is fed.” What then? Is the reward of Virtue bread? 150 That, Vice
may merit, 'tis the price of toil ;
him Riches, your demand is o'er?
“But sometimes Virtue ftarves, while Vice is fed.”] III. The poet, having dispatched these two species of murmurers, comes now to the third and ftill more pardonable fort, the discontented GOOD MEN, who lament only that Virtue starves, while Vice riots. To these he replies (from * 148 to 157) that admit this to be the case, yet they have no reason to complain, either of the good man's lot in particular, or of the dispensation of Providence in general. Not of the former, because Happiness, the reward of Virtue, consifteth not in Externals ; nor of the latter, because ill men may gain wealth by commenda-, ble industry, good men want necessaries through indolence or bad conduct.
VER. 157. But grant him Riches, &c.] But as modest as this
Add Health, and Pow'r, and ev'ry earthly thing, . Why bounded Pow'r ? why private ? why no king?”
160 Nay, why external for internal giv'n? Why is not Man a God, and Earth a Heav'n? Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive God gives enough, while he has more to give : Immense the pow'r, immense were the demand; Say, at what part of nature will they stand? 166
What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, The soul's calm sun-line, and the heart-felt joy, Is Virtue's prize : A better would
fix ? Then give Humility a coach and fix, 170
COMMENTARY. complaint seemeth at first view, the poet next shews (from y 156 to 167) that it is founded on a principle of the highest extravagance, which will never let the discontented good man rest, 'till he becomes as vain and foolish in his imaginations as the very worst sort of complainers. For that when once he begins to think he wants what is his due, he will never know where to stop, while God hath any thing to give,
VER. 167. What nothing earthiy gives, &c.] But this is not all; he proveth next (from x 166 to 185) that these demands are not only unreasonable, but in the highest degree absurd likewise. For that those very goods, if granted, would be the defruction of that Virtue for which they are demanded as a Reward. He concludes therefore on the whole, that,
What nothing earthly gives, or can destroj,
Justice a Conq’ror's sword, or Truth a gown,
Say, what rewards this idle world imparts,
COMMENTAR Y. And that to aim at other, which not only is of no use to us here, but, what is more, will be of none hereafter, is a passion like that of an Infant or a Savage, where the one is impatient for what he will soon defpife, and the other makes a pro:ision for what he can never want.
NOTES. VER. 177. Go, like the In- credit any rational hopes of fudian, &c ] Alluding to the ex ture happiness, but only to reample of the Indian in Epist. i. prove the folly of separating 9 99. and shewing, that that
them from charity : as when example was not given to dil
-Zeal, riot Charity, became the guide,
How oft by these at sixty are undone
COMMENTARY. VER. 185. To whom can Riches give Repute, or Truft,] The poet now enters more at large upon the matter : And still continuing his discourse to this third sort of complainers (whom he indulgeth, as much more pardonable than the first or second, in rectifying all their doubts and mistakes) he proves, both from reason and example, how unable any of those things are which the world most admires, to make a good man happy. For as to the Philosophic mistakes concerning Hapriness, there being little danger of their making a general impression, he had, after a short confutation, dismissed them at once. But External goods are those Syrens which so bewitch the world with dreams of Happiness, that it is of all things the most difficult to awaken it out of its delusions; though, as he proves in an exact review of the most pretending, they dishonour bad men, and add no luftre to the good. That it is only this third and least criminal sort of complainers, against which the remaining part of the difcourse is levelled, appeareth from the poet's so frequently addressing himself, while he inforceth his arguments in behalf of Providence, from henceforward to his friend.
I. He beginneth therefore (from * 184 to 205) with confidering Riches. 1. He examines, first, what there is of real value or enjoyment in them; and sheweth, they can give the good man only that very Contentment and that very Esteem and Love which he had before : And scornfully cries out to those of a different opinion,
Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind, The lover and the love of human-kind, 190 Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear, Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
Honour and shame from no Condition rife; Act well your part, there all the honour lies. 194 Fortune in Men has some small diff'rence made, One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade The cobler apron'd, and the parson gown'd, The frier hooded, and the monarch crown'd. “What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl?” I'll tell friend ! a wise man and a Fool. 200
COMMENTARY. 2. Next he examines the imaginary value of Riches, as the fountain of Honour. For his adversaries' objection standeth thus : -As Honour is the genuine claim of Virtue, and Shame the just retribution of Vice; and as Honour, in their opinion, follows Riches, and Shame Poverty; therefore the good man should be rich. He tells them in this they are much mistaken:
Honour and frame from no Condition rise;
Axt well your part, there all the honour' liés. What power then has Fortune over the Man ? None at all; for as her favours can confer neither worth nor wisdom; so neither can her displeasure cure him of any of his follies. On his Garb indeed the hath some little influence; but his Heart still semains the fame :
Fortune in Men has some small difforence made,
One ficunts in rags, one flutters in brocade. But this difference extends no farther than to the habit ; the pride of heart is the fame both in the flaunter and the flutterer, as it is the poct's intention to infinuate by the use of those terms.